Nearly an entire year has gone by and most, if not all, of us are social distancing. I’m lucky enough to get to self-isolate. Staying home means I get more writing done anyway. Leaving my house for any reason, even before the pandemic, cut into my production time, so I guess I self-isolated before it became the thing to do. While I’ve always enjoyed being at home and I certainly have a passion and need for writing, what I didn’t have before but inherited with the pandemic like a creepy house my great aunt left me (I don’t have relatives rich enough to leave me houses, creepy or not) is a whole lot of stress.
They say there’s good and bad stress but how do you tell the difference when there’s so much of it you feel as if you’re drowning in it? I think that’s the question most of us are asking ourselves. That and how do I create under such conditions?
Maybe us artistic types are too tuned in to our feelings, but I think a lot of us, regardless of personality and other factors, feel the stress. Yes, some more than others. I’m not a frontline worker but I can imagine they have a whole lot of creepy house piled on top of them. I grateful for their service and sacrifice.
They only thing I have to give is stories, so I’ve focused my attention on that. It’s what I can contribute. I’ve always liked a book that makes me forget about the world for a little while, writing and reading a like. It seems we all need a way to unwind. A good fluffy romance or cozy mystery, and a soak in a tub is my idea of relaxation. If you’re reading this, then chances are you’re a reader and/or writer, so you love sinking into a good book too, although your genre and choice of environments might be different.
There’s not a wrong way to relax and destress. For you, it could be running three miles or spending time in nature (I enjoy this one too). Whatever does the job, right? Just don’t rule out the power of a good book.
Book nerds know.
I always start this sort of article when we’re deep into the new year. That’s mostly because I fail to plan in December, which is when I should. Or if I plan then, I change it a thousand times, so January is really where things get set in stone. Or in my case, one sheet of paper I can throw away if I need to make changes. Or that’s how it’s been in the past.
This year is different. I made a solid production plan the first week of January. I’m planning something new, so I’m not sure of the word count for that project. But overall, I have a set schedule with wiggle room if needed. So, the reason for the lateness of this article is because of the project I’m working on. I’m fully absorbed in Saint Lakes once again.
I have two goals this year. One continues from 2019 and that is reediting my backlist. Slowly but surely, that’s coming along. My editor and I have been working hard on each book, prettying them up.
My other goal is to continue writing and/or rewriting on the multiple series I have out and write a new one that will come out this summer. I also have one book that’s part of a group series, but I’m not allowed to say much about it yet. But overall, writing stories you can escape into is, and has always been, my goal.
More about what’s coming your way:
Pickleville. A Tarnished Strength (Pickleville 4) is with my editor at the time of writing this. She’s nearly finish, so if you’re one of my patrons, you can get a sneak peek on the first few chapters. It’ll get released on February 26th and can be pre-order now.
Here’s a link to A Tarnished Strength: https://books2read.com/u/bzg2RG
And a link to Patreon, if you’d like to sign up: https://www.patreon.com/aprilkelley
Saint Lakes/Wingspan. I’m excited to have three, hopefully four, new releases this year.
I’m excited to continue where Uncovering the Dark (Saint Lakes 8) left off. Book eight was Owen and his mate, Damien’s story. If you haven’t read it, I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I’ll just leave a buy link and talk about the new release.
Uncovering the Dark buy link: https://books2read.com/u/bPXr9R
Blackwing is a departure from the Saint Lakes storyline, so for that reason I’ll just say it's part of the Saint Lakes/Wingspan universe. Bailey, Damien’s brother, finds more romance than he knows what to do with. Or rather, his much older, dragon shifter mate, Trace does. Trace discovers he has not one young vampire mate, but two. He’s grumpy and has secrets he’d rather not tell, which complicates everything. It’s available April 28th but you can pre-order it now.
Reverberation is book nine in the series and is Vaughan’s story. His story involves a pretty fae stuck in a castle, a plane crash in which he’s stuck with his boyfriend and his mate (they aren’t the same person 😉), and to top it all off, someone is chasing them. It’s an adventure for sure. It comes out May 21st. The Pre-order link is provided below.
Redefining Normal is a Christmas Novella. It’s about a human named Wade, who was held captive with Magnus in book seven and a shifter named Etgar. Both are going through a lot of mental and physical changes, and they have to find a way to do that together. It comes out December 3rd. Once I have a pre-order link, I’ll let you know.
I’m going to try to get Mercury on Fire written early enough that I can get it into your hands this year, but as of now, I plan on a January 2022 release.
Chasing Time. A few years ago, I released the first two books in a series called Chasing Time but pulled them for reasons that aren’t relevant to today. I’m planning on reediting and re-releasing them later in the year and writing the next two as new releases. You’ll hear more about it later. Patreons will get the books free.
Something New! I’m going to try not to get so excited I give spoilers. I’m tentatively calling the series Omega Talent Co: Club Lollipop. If you like omegaverse and mpreg, then these books are for you.
It’s about a club that is almost a character all on its own. It’s having a tough time making it because the owner has lost his business partner and best friend. Couple that with financial problems and Club Lollipop is having problems. Club Lollipop comes up with a way to make money by having Omega and Alpha stripper night. Throw in a little mystery and a lot of romance and you have Club Lollipop.
There may or may not be paranormal elements. I’m not sure yet. I welcome your thoughts on this. To shifter or not to shifter. That is the question, I think. Or maybe another type of being. Your thoughts are welcome and encouraged.
There will be 6-7 books in the series. Each book will be novella to small novel length. I think. I plan on releasing the first book in June. Because I’m unsure of the length of each book, I might need more time to write each one, and my summer releases may extend into the fall.
The collaborative book. More on this at a later time.
I get a little ambitious every year, so this year I included that tendency into my production plan as well as time to cater to my muse, although at the moment my muse is stuck in Saint Lakes.
I have a coming soon page on my website that you can check out here: https://www.authoraprilkelley.com/coming-soon.html
Micah has the gift of matchmaking. All Micah has to do is find people with the same aura color. Sometimes his uniqueness feels like a burden. But most of the time he doesn’t mind. He just wishes he could find his own soulmate.
Copyright © 2016 April Kelley
The bus stop consisted of a single white sign on a metal post. The letters were dark green and unassuming. There wasn’t a sidewalk but just a strip of grass big enough for two people side by side. Behind Micah lay a stand of trees with a creek running through it, then his apartment parking lot and building.
Micah stood next to the sign, facing the street, trying not to sweat, and failing, under the hot sun. The heat weighed him down, sitting on his shoulders. It was a brutal day. Far too humid to have a backyard barbeque, but Micah couldn’t tell his meddling sister anything.
Marissa just had to have a party. She did every time Micah got in a funk, which really wasn’t often. Once or twice a year wasn’t bad.
Micah leaned against it as he pulled the cellphone out of his pocket. He hissed out a curse and practically jumped away from the hot metal searing into his back.
“Stupid,” he mumbled.
The lady on the other side of the sign looked amused. She had on a skirt and a light blue blouse. She looked as if it kept her as cool as possible under the blazing sun. Her aura was pink but so dark it was almost red. If he were seeing her color, it meant she would meet her soulmate very soon.
He had a weird family. His great grandmother was a Fae and, even though she was old, she was still alive and kicking. When he was younger, she had told him it was his responsibility to connect people. Do what he could to make sure they didn’t miss each other. Sometimes it was a big job.
Hopefully, the woman wouldn’t give him a hard time. Micah just had to find her soulmate. That person or persons would have the same aura color as her and they were close by.
Micah looked around, turning to scope out the fast-food joints on the other side of the street. He couldn’t see into the window of the restaurant, but he didn’t see anyone with an aura milling around the parking lot. He never liked a situation where he didn’t see the two auras together at the same time.
He bit his lips and contemplated his options.
He had made the wrong choices before and had made an idiot of himself. It was difficult to know which step to take next.
He cleared his throat and smiled at her.
The lady definitely wasn’t the trusting sort or maybe his smiled make him look like a serial killer. Either way, she took his smile wrong because she gave him a narrow-eyed stare, clutching her bag against her body as if she thought he was going to snatch it.
“Oh, jeez, no, no. I’m completely harmless, I promise.” He held up his hands as if he were under arrest.
The lady gave him the side-eye, which didn’t bode well for his cause. Then she sighed and leaned forward, scanning the road in the direction the bus would come.
Micah followed her gaze and noticed it was at the stoplight, so he didn’t have much time. He shuffled nervously on his feet.
“My sister is throwing a party. She invited everyone, hoping I’ll find my soulmate. Do you believe in soulmates? My family does.” That was subtle, right? Or did it make him sound even crazier?
That was the one thing about his gift. It was tough to explain, and most people didn’t believe him.
“I’m just trying to get to a job interview.” Her tone made it obvious small talk wasn’t her thing.
Not many in their city were friendly enough to talk to strangers. People in the area didn’t even like simple greetings. It was a regional thing, which drove Micah nuts because Marissa had moved to the city for her job a few years ago, and Micah had followed her because the LGBT community was more extensive than in their hometown. People were a lot friendlier where he was from, and he missed that. Especially when all he wanted was to help the lady with the dark pink aura, and she took his friendliness and ran it over with the crazy train.
Micah sighed. “Yeah, I get it. I sound crazy.”
The lady nodded and made an approving sound.
The bus brakes let out a squeak and a whistle of air. The lady took a step toward it.
“She’s clairvoyant. My sister. Says I’ll find my soulmate when I’m completely relaxed. She thinks parties relax me.” Micah fell in behind her when the bus door opened.
She practically ran up the bus stairs and down the aisle.
Micah paid his bus fare to the driver. The driver scowled as he watched the lady sit mid-bus. Digging in his pocket, he paid her fare too so the driver wouldn’t complain and stress the woman even more than Micah had already.
There was a man at the back of the bus, the only other person inside. Micah looked closely, making sure his pink was dark enough to match the ladies. He’s made mistakes before, didn’t quite get it right, so it paid to double-check. The man dressed like a biker in black leather. He also had a beard covering most of his face and neck. He didn’t look like the woman’s type, but Micah had learned not to judge a person by their outer appearance.
Micah stopped in the aisle a few feet away. “Ma’am, you’re supposed to talk to him.”
What was it about people? They were so untrusting sometimes.
She stood and turned toward the back of the bus. Micah knew she moved to get away from him, but he didn’t care. The result was still the same. Whatever put her closer to the biker man.
The bus door closed and started moving. The woman stumbled. Luckily, the man in the back was observant enough to notice her dilemma and proceeded to catch her before she fell.
“Are you okay?” The man held onto her arm, making sure she was stable, but let her go as soon as he realized she got her sea legs under her again.
“Yes, that man has been harassing me for ten minutes now.” Their auras flowed together.
The man narrowed his eyes at Micah and guided the woman to a seat. Bike dude was going to kick his ass. Micah gave a little squeal and turned, starting for the front of the bus.
“I’m just going to make sure he knows to leave you alone,” he heard the man say.
Shit. Micah’s heart raced. The man was a lot bigger. Yep, Micah was probably going to get punched.
“It’s okay. I think he’s harmless.”
“If you’re sure.”
“I’m sure if I sit with you, he’ll leave me alone.”
Micah considered himself average in every way. He was thin but not skinny and in shape without looking musclebound. He was 5’9”, so not gigantic in height but not a shrimp either. He would probably be considered cute by most, but not gorgeous man-candy.
The man Marissa had introduced as Julian was beautiful. No one would describe him as average in any way. Even the man’s aura was a pretty dark purple color that reminded Micah of royalty.
Micah took Julian’s hand and shook it. Julian smiled politely.
Micah looked around the backyard after letting go of the man’s hand. When he saw the matching purple color of Julian’s soulmate over by the food table squirting mustard on a hotdog, he said, “did you get something to eat yet, Julian?”
“You should go fix a plate.”
“I think I will. It was nice meeting you.”
“You too,” Micah smiled.
He watched the man go and sighed. He made matches all the time, and somehow, had never encountered the person or persons meant for him. He couldn’t even find one in a city with a few million people.
Marissa put her arm around his shoulder, giving him moral support. “If it makes you feel better, I haven’t met my soulmate either.”
Micah hung his head.
The worst part was it did make Micah feel better to know he wasn’t so alone in his loneliness. It had been something they bonded over in recent years.
“Your aura is green.” Did it make him a shitty brother to not feel happy for her?
Marissa sucked in a breath and looked around her backyard. “I’ve met everyone here. How did I miss it?”
“I don’t think they’re here yet.” Yeah, Micah was a selfish shit. He needed to get over himself.
She met his gaze. “You’re not fucking with me, are you?”
Whenever she cursed, it brought Micah back to their childhood. Marissa was born with the name Michael. She used to swear a lot more when they were teenagers, and she was still trying to figure out why she wasn’t comfortable in her skin.
“Oh, Micah. I’m so nervous. What if he or she doesn’t accept me?”
“They’ll see how great you are. You’ll see.”
She gave a happy squeal and hugged him, jumping around as she hung onto him.
“Calm down, you dork.” Micah hugged her back. “Seriously, take a couple of deep breaths because she’s walking this way. She looks nervous.”
The same dark green surrounded his sister’s soulmate. She wore shorts and a T-shirt with a rainbow across the front. She had short, dark hair and wore sunglasses. She walked next to one of his sister’s work colleagues, Yvette, who Micah had met once.
He released Marissa.
Marissa met his gaze with wide eyes. Her body stiffened as if she were frozen in place and would never turn to face the other half of her soul.
“Well, don’t piss yourself. Sheesh.” Micah rolled his eyes and physically turned her.
“So glad you could make it, Yvette.” Marissa hugged the other woman as if she weren’t freaking out just seconds ago.
Micah was impressed.
“I hope it’s okay that I brought a friend. This is Cara.”
“It’s perfect,” Micah supplied for Marissa because it didn’t seem as if she even heard Yvette speak. Her focus lay entirely on Cara.
“Cara,” Marissa breathed the word as if she had to test it on her tongue. “Can I get you something to drink? Or maybe you’re hungry.”
Micah couldn’t bring himself to wallow in self-pity when he saw the look on his sister’s face. She was so cute, all enamored.
“Something to drink would be great, thanks.” Cara smiled.
Maybe he would give it another minute before commencing the pity party.
As they walked away, Micah decided to eat his emotions and made his way over to the food table. He grabbed the apple pie and a plastic fork. He crossed the yard, heading for the house. On the deck were two women with the same color auras.
They were sitting on a lounge chair, chatting and flirting.
Binge-watching something on the discovery channel and eating his weight in pie seemed the best way to roll in his self-pity.
Away from people was just what Micah needed, and he had it on good authority his family’s cabin was empty. Okay, his mother told him with a warning not to leave any food spoiling in the refrigerator and to clean and lock up when he left.
Micah smiled as he turned down the long drive. Food jostled around inside a box that sat on the back seat—milk and cereal warring against each other as he hit a pothole along the way. There were forested areas on either side of him.
It had been a couple of years since he’d spent time there, and he forgot how remote it was. The cabin sat on the shore of a small lake that wasn’t good for much except fishing and hunting waterfowl. His parents had bought it when his dad went through his ‘I want to try hunting’ faze. If his family had to depend on his dad’s hunting skills to keep them alive, they would all starve, and Micah wasn’t too keen on killing animals either, although he did like a good steak now and then. Maybe it made him a hypocrite, but whatever. It was something he could think about while on his little sabbatical.
Micah stopped the car next to the small wooden cabin and immediately opened his door. He was out within seconds. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath in through his nose and let it out through his mouth.
Except for the cabin next door, no one was around for miles. Micah planned to do nothing but read the entire time he was there. He would do it in his underwear or even naked. Let it all hang out, free and easy as the gods intended.
“Hey,” he heard a voice off to his right.
Micah screamed and jumped about a mile into the air. When he did, his foot hit a log or a rock or something, throwing him off balance. He fell on his ass right next to his car, landing in the dirt and grass. That was when he noticed his legs glowing a cool blue, the color of lake water in the summer.
Micah sucked in a breath and put his hand to his chest.
His soulmate was near.
Before he had a chance to scan the area, a man crouched down beside him. He wore a scowl as if it were part of his being. His dark eyes held knowledge of pain.
His aura was the same color as Micah’s.
“Are you okay?” His eyebrows drew together in concern. The man reached for his hand, and their auras merged. “You’ve scraped your hands.”
Right before his soulmate closed his mouth, Micah could swear he saw elongated canine teeth.
Micah blinked and shook off the image. His imagination was running wild.
He let the man help him stand and jumped for joy in his mind when an arm settled around his waist.
“My name is Sealey Monroe. This is going to sound weird, but I’ve been looking for you.” When Sealey spoke, his pointed, long canine teeth were unmistakable.
“Me too.” Micah smiled.
If you would like more short stories, early access to new releases, become a Patron https://www.patreon.com/aprilkelley
We all know stress affects our health in negative ways. Here’s one positive thing you can do to help yourself. Yes, even you, non-writer.
I know, I know. You’re already telling yourself that you like reading not writing. And maybe you’re argument is that it’s easy for us writers to jump on the Journaling bandwagon But I have a secret. I sometimes don’t feel like writing either, even journaling. I mean, who wants to deal with their feelings? And that’s what I’m talking about here: Dealing with feelings.
No matter how long you put off something, it seems to creep up no matter how much you bury it. I should know as I’m the queen of pushing down my emotions. With our world feeling a bit like the end of days, we all have a ton of emotional stuff churning around inside us. Journaling is an outlet, and we all need one of those.
It helps alleviate stress. Some is good, like the stress of writing a new book or training for a marathon, studying for that next test. Whatever you do in your life that lifts you in some way also creates a little bit of stress in your life, and that’s okay. The good stress puts one foot in front of the other, allowing us to move forward with purpose.
I’m not talking about doing away with good stress. I’m talking about the stuff that eats at us from the inside out, creating health problems, both mental and physical. If you take twenty minutes a day and journal, you’ll keep the doctors away a little longer.
Bad stress sticks to your heart, making it more cumbersome than it should be. You all know the stress I mean. I don’t know about you, but most of the stuff I worry about I can’t change, like the covid-19 virus. There isn’t anything I can do about it, other than staying home as much as possible, wearing a mask, gloves, and sanitize everything a gazillion times, including myself. But none of those things will make the virus disappear for good. I’m no scientist, but I’m pretty sure only a vaccine can erase it for good. Of course, covid-19 is just one example. I use it because it’s the one stress we all have in common at the moment. Pick your poison, though. Money, interpersonal relationships, health problems, other dangers in the world…the list goes on. For some of us, it’s so long all we want to do is stay in bed with our heads under the covers.
So I’m not saying journaling will solve all your problems and you’ll live in the land of rainbows and unicorns. What I am saying is that journaling may help you figure out where you sit emotionally with everything in your life. Just like talking to a therapist, journaling is a way to problem solve those things you can change. It allows you to line up the steps and problem solve. One stressor less lightens your load.
So how will it help the things you can’t change? I’m glad you asked.
Let’s face it. If there is ever a time where our stressors turn into a deeper mental issue, it’s right now. Depression and anxiety are real things. I’ve suffered from both for most of my life. Between my children leaving home last fall, my mother’s cancer diagnosis (it isn’t looking good for her, and that’s something I can’t change), the pandemic, and social injustice my mental health is taking a beating. I can’t change any of the things I just listed. At least not all by myself, and my mom dying, not at all. I wish I was a wizard and could erase them all, making it good for all of us. Maybe that’s a childish thought, but I would if I could.
I know you have stressors as well, and some are affecting your mental health too. What you can do is prioritize and organize your thoughts through journaling. Writing stuff down helps you recognize triggers and gives you an outlet to vent. You’ll learn how better to respond to the negative things in your life, so the stress is easier to manage.
So yes, we all have our problems. Some you can change, and some you can’t. That’s how life rolls. It’s how you deal with it that affects you the most. Journaling can improve your quality of life. It’s a way to organize the jumbled-up mess that is your mind, and that organization can lead to improved mental health.
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I know, I know. I'm a month late for this post but better late than never.
First and foremost, I know you all are wondering if I'm ever going to publish anything ever again. The answer is YES!
Here's what I'm planning:
All the Pickleville books will be rewritten and available by the end of this year. Book two is in re-edits as we speak and will come out in March. The other books will be out every month after. Or just about anyway.
In August, I'll release something new. The book is part of the Sinister Delights collection. Each book will be written by a different author and will feature a dark romantic interpretation of a fairytale or classic story. I'm writing a modern version of the story Aladdin as found in the One Hundred and One Nghts stories. More about this at a later time.
Bronwyn Heeley and I are writing a Christmas story. It will be an MM paranormal romance and it will come out in December.
Saint Lakes and Wingspan are still in the works as well. I'm just not sure about release dates and such. When I know, you'll know, though.