Werewolves in the Spring

Edge of the Woods is my first novel in nine years, and it’s being released in April 2021. I started writing it in late 2015. At the time, my concept was simple: A fluffy smalltown boy-meets-girl romance with a simple twist: The girl was a werewolf. It was meant to be fun, playful, and not take itself too seriously. The original working title was Summer Moon

But then something happened: 2016. I know there’s kind of a meme about it, but 2016 was traumatic for me on both a societal and personal scale. Large portions of it are blacked out in my memory. I was so stressed that I missed the fact that I had a fever for a while because my temperature was constantly elevated from anxiety. And on a national level, fascism was coming out of the woodwork everywhere. Globally, even, though of course the US presidential election of 2016 put a rather fine point on it for me.

Through all this, my writing shifted. The tone of the story became a bit darker, and it morphed into territory more traditionally occupied by paranormal and contemporary fantasy. (I keep comparing it to “What if there was an X-Files episode about True Blood?” and honestly that’s kind of the space it occupies.) The plot became about a young woman who feels massively underqualified for the position she finds herself in, facing an influx of supremacists, bigots, and usurpers who are actively trying to dismantle the delicate balance of her world. She’s working in partnership with a man who is already disillusioned and jaded by his past with a toxic and abusive family and also a toxic and abusive ex-career as a police officer. It’s not intended as an allegory or metaphor, but rather a reflection, and the themes are unmistakably influenced.

I do want to take a moment to address one of my MCs’ profession, though. While he’s an ex-police officer, Leland is still in law enforcement (sheriff’s deputy) during the scope of the story. LEOs have been a romance category for a long time, and they currently are not in favor — for obvious and very understandable reasons. I know some people can’t currently engage with any media that centers law enforcement officers, so I wanted you to have a heads-up about this one. If you want more details about how it’s handled so you can weigh your options, that’s below, including some mild spoilers, so I’m hiding it for those who don’t want spoilers at all.

[SPOILERS – Highlight to read]

Leland comes from a rough background, growing up with an abusive father, a toxic mother, and a little sister he raised mostly by himself. He got into the police force because it was one of the highest paying jobs he could get without a college degree and he’s still looking out for his little sister. But because Leland has morals and a protective streak a mile wide, this didn’t work out too well for him. When you meet him in the beginning of the story, he’s just left the force after a particularly traumatic incident where he tried to protect a young boy from excessive force from his coworkers and had that force turned on him as well. He’s taken a job as a sheriff’s deputy in a very small town, hoping it will be different enough to allow him some peace and quiet while still making enough money to take care of his sister as she prepares to go to college. Unfortunately, he still encounters plenty of problems even there.

[End Spoilers]

As a queer woman with law enforcement officers in my family, I’ve been skeptical of the profession for a long time, so this career choice for Leland was never about romanticizing it. However, as a white person, I also understand I’m not the primary target of most of the militarized police violence happening, and I don’t want this to blindside anyone who might pick up the novel. Also, if for some reason you were expecting to find a story that treats the profession as romantic and swoon-worthy… You should know that’s unapologetically not the case here before you get into it. 

And if you have any specific concerns you’d like to ask me about, I’m fine with answering them to the best of my ability. The story may have morphed into “not a cutesy romance anymore,” but I still want to minimize trauma.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you in April!

A Spooky Surprise

I released “Shiver,” the Halloween-themed third Grace & Maya story, four days ago at the writing of this post. (It’s on the Works page, or you can jump straight to Amazon to buy it.) I’ve had a draft page open to write this post for almost as long. I’ve been trying to find a balance, and I don’t think I have, but I might never, so I’m just going to go tilting onward at this point.

I’ve actually been wanting to write a Halloween story for these girls for a long time. (There’s a winter-holidays story in the works, too. Maybe it won’t take me four years to finish it.) Last year, I was trying to write “Shiver” in time for an October release, but Halloween came and went without me, and I lamented on Twitter that I’d failed at my goal. A mutual follower expressed that they had also failed to write a Halloween story that year, and we lightly promised each other we’d both make it happen this year and promote each other’s. Unfortunately, that person passed away a few weeks ago and so was not able to complete their Halloween story this year, either. Many other people were closer to them than I was, so I haven’t felt it was my place to express any of this, but I did want to honor them, because it was their memory and the promise I made that made me buckle down and keep writing this one even when I was tired, even when I was wallowing in impostor syndrome and anxiety and ADHD.

This story still isn’t perfect, and it isn’t everything I wanted to make it, but it did get done — because I promised Corey that I would. Anyway. Corey may not have gotten to write their Halloween story this year, but if you’d like to read some of their other stories, there are lots on Amazon, and they’re worth it. Here’s a link to Corey’s author page (penname Xan West), and you can explore from there.

Happy Halloween.

A Little Quarantreat

I’m so sorry that I haven’t updated since literally January first, but that’s the kind of person you’re dealing with here. I hope you’re doing all right in these strange and troubled times, finding brightness where you can. A couple of weeks ago, I got the idea that I’d like to do something for people, and since Swelter is the only property I have that isn’t promised to someone else right now, and since some lovely people have been nice enough to say they’d like to see more of Grace and Maya, that’s what I went for.

My original intention was to write pure escapist fluff, but it turns out my brain can’t disengage from the massive collective trauma we’re all experiencing, and it turned out a bit more bittersweet. There’s no pandemic in Grace and Maya’s parallel world, but there are still problems to cope with. It’s on the mild end of the hurt/comfort spectrum, but I feel like that’s just where my emotional state is these days.

So I hope this can provide a little escape for you, if only for a few minutes. I hope you can find some moments of sunshine and give yourself some space to breathe.

As to the technicalities of this: You can find the new story on the Works page, directly under Swelter, and you have the option to read on the website or download the PDF. As of now, I have no plans to put it on Amazon, but if you’d like to leave a review of any kind, it is listed on Goodreads [here]. And if we’re lucky, there’s at least two more stories I have in mind for these two.

So thank you, and stay safe.

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2020! The site is small but mostly functional now, thanks to the fact that I only have one work that’s currently in print. That will be changing soon! Here’s a sneak peek at what’s going to be happening:

  1. Revising and republishing the M. Jules Aedin back catalog. Windows in Time is the first one being reworked, then Paper Planes and Lovegames are getting their makeovers next. The revisions process on Windows is fairly intense. In the beginning, I was just going to make some tweaks here and there and move on, but as I started reading it again, I realized there were so many things in it that would make me, as a reader, put it down now, most notably the acerbic tone and internalized misogyny, plus a lot of unnecessary exposition. I like to think I’ve grown as both a writer and a person in the 10+ years since it was originally published, and I hope that the rework shows that.
  2. New stuff! That’s right, I wrote new stuff, and the details should be on their way soon as to when and where you’ll get to read it. What kind of new stuff? Well, I hope you’re ready for some supernatural creatures, because that’s what we got. Also my first m/f published work, actually, though they’re still queer. I’ll update when I can tell you more.
  3. I might use this website format to talk about things, maybe! Who knows! But if you want to keep up with me in the meantime, I’m on tumblr and Instagram as @juleskelleybooks and on Twitter as @julesrkelley.

So what plans and possibilities are YOU excited for in 2020? What good things are on your horizon? Tell me about them, and let’s chase them together!