Today I am so pleased to welcome Kendall McKenna to Joyfully Jay. Kendall has come to talk to us about the new Semper Fidelis anthology from Totally Bound Publishing. She has also brought along some information about a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Kendall a big welcome!
Greetings. I’m Kendall McKenna, author of m/m erotic romance series. I love writing about U.S. Marines so much, I’ve made it my niche. I write very realistic, action-filled stories, but it’s my authentic characters I’m most proud of.
The moment I read the special submission call from Totally Bound, requesting stories featuring men in uniform, I had to submit a story since this is my specialty! I’m honored to be included in the anthology, Semper Fidelis, in the company of some very talented authors.
When you read my story, Soul Sick, you discover my passion for fully developed characters. I’m fascinated by complex, complicated characters; flaws, blemishes, baggage and all. Realistic, heart-pounding combat scenes are all about the characters’ motives and reactions.
My favorite types of stories feature multiple fascinating characters who interact in entertaining ways. Sometimes they share jokes, or tease each other (otherwise known as flirting!). They mask their mutual attraction with avoidance, or hostility (kinda like playground pigtail pulling). I love stories that highlight these relationships and interactions.
Soul Sick opens with a battle already in progress. One of the main characters – Jesse – is in peril (no, he’s not tied to train tracks!). The scene isn’t about combat or politics; it’s about Jesse’s character, and his emotions. The platoon is pinned down, taking heavy small arms fire, and are nearly out of ammunition. These details form the backdrop against which readers experience Jesse’s thoughts and emotions (cause let’s face it; guys like Jesse aren’t known for talking about their feelings).
It’s easy to just tell readers about Jesse, and what he feels about the people and events in his life. It’s easy, sure, but it’s also lazy (and not very creative!). By the end of my first scene in Soul Sick, readers feel how much Jesse cares about his Marines. Readers feel Jesse’s love for Trevor, his partner, just as he feels it. They experience firsthand, the way Jesse keeps Trevor close to his heart while he’s deployed. The trauma from the battle is obvious, and readers not only empathize with Jesse, but they understand his later turmoil. When that turmoil leads to conflict between Jesse and Trevor, readers’ hearts ache, and they’re as desperate for the couple to work things out as Jesse is.
It isn’t all about Jesse, though. Readers have to know and like Trevor, as well Jesse. And Trevor is an interesting character; he’s a reformed bad boy, sporting long hair, piercings, and tattoos. He also has a master’s degree. (Just describing him gets me HOT!) The conflict between the couple is logical to readers, because of the trauma Jesse experienced. The scenes provide a clear view of Trevor, and how he deals with conflict differently than Jesse. The emotional clashes, and frenetic disputes reveal Trevor’s intelligence, fearlessness, and compassion. Trevor’s no victim, and he meets Jesse’s fear and rage head-on.
Even the love scenes provide insight into one, or both characters. (No…really…they do…honest!) The love scenes are filled with kissing, and caressing, among other actions. They’re passionate, sexy, arousing, and a lot of fun to read. All of it though, provides a glimpse into Trevor’s, or Jesse’s thoughts and feelings; sometimes even into their relationship. Readers feel the strength of Jesse’s love for Trevor, they see Trevor’s love for Jesse demonstrated, and they share in his joy.
When stories are character driven, the characters must be interesting. They need to matter to readers, so it’s necessary that they be fully developed. Action, conflict, and physical intimacy capture and hold readers’ attention, propelling the characters through the story. I’m a sucker for colorful, well-rounded characters (with hot bodies and tattoos), so I do my best to write those types of stories. Still, a good story is a good story, even if it’s action-packed, focusing on the exploits, rather than the characters. Well written stories, loaded with action, and propelled forward by the characters are very entertaining. That’s the most important thing that any story can be.
‘Anomaly’ by S.A. McAuley
Staff Sergeant Galen Welc is known for his uncanny ability to spot improvised explosive devices and so he’s pitted against the latest in defense technology. He trusts his instincts and his training, but they may just be leading him somewhere—and to an explosive reaction with someone—he could never see coming.
‘Always Ready’ by T.A. Chase
Making a living on the Bering Sea is hard enough, but throw love into the equation, and things can blow into a hurricane. Dean and Phil must always be ready to love each other because life can be taken so easily when one works on the sea.
‘A Ring and a Vow’ by Devon Rhodes
Every promise must someday be fulfilled, and the best way Owen knows how to reward Cary’s faith is with a vow. It’s been nearly five years since Owen went down on one knee with his Academy ring and promised Cary he’d someday do it for real. With Cary being a Naval aviator and Owen a Marine officer serving in Iraq, they’re rarely on the same continent, let alone together. Cary has been waiting for Owen for years—there was no chance he’d ever say anything but yes. Owen is coming home at last, and wants to make a home with him.
‘My Marine’ by LE Franks and Sara York
Marine Captain Sean Kelley loves his country and the men he serves with, but when he meets Akim, he’s tempted to throw it all away for the mysterious man. Akim Bijan has a secret of his own—one large enough to get more than just himself killed if it’s revealed. But from the moment he first lays eyes on the handsome Marine, he’s tempted to do just that. When tragedy strikes, Akim is afraid he’s lost Sean for good and he’s forced to make a decision that will change both their lives.
‘Soul Sick’ by Kendall McKenna
Jamie thought he made it home to Tucker, leaving war behind. Now, each day he battles to fit into his own life, and save the love that saved his life. Jamie is a captain in the US Marine Corps who carried a photo of Tucker with him throughout his deployment. Tucker is a reformed bad boy who has an advanced degree and an important job but still sports long hair and tattoos. Now, they’re struggling to learn to live with each other again, and things are going downhill fast.
‘Safe Shores’ by Morticia Knight
Kirk’s Coast Guard lover, Shane, is the only person who can save his son from a vicious storm—if he’s not too late. Shane and Kirk’s joyful reunion is interrupted when an unusually vicious gale storm threatens the coast. Kirk has to stand by helplessly and wait while his lover battles the raging seas to save his son. In an instant, Kirk could lose everyone he holds dear.
Kendall McKenna’s first work of fiction was written at the worldly age of nine, and was a transformative work that expanded on the story told in a popular song of the time.
She tried her hand at vampire and cowboy fiction, winning high school poetry and short story contests along the way. It wasn’t until she discovered the world of M/M erotic fiction and found her stride with cops, Marines and muscle cars, that she felt inspired to share her stories with readers who enjoy the same things.
Putting herself through college by working in a newly-created HIV testing clinic in her local Department of Health, introduced Kendall to the gay and lesbian community. Understanding and empathy has made her a lifetime advocate of GLBT issues.
A brief bout of unemployment gave Kendall the time and focus she needed to finally produce a novel worth submitting for publication. Her first novel, Brothers In Arms, introduced the world to her authentic military stories and characters.
Kendall was born and raised in Southern California, and currently still resides there. A non-conventional relationship has kept her happy for the last decade. Her four dogs enjoy it when she writes, as she sits still long enough for them to curl up around her.
You can follow Kendall’s blog and find her on Facebook and Twitter.
Enter Totally Bound’s February blog competition for a chance to win an eBook of your choice!
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