Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: October 27, 2017
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AboutáThe Wild Rose Press
I’m delighted to welcome USA Today best-selling author M.K. Eidem to my blog today to talk about her new release, Pets in Space 2!
As Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 is coming out I thought I should introduce my fans to my grand fur babies.
So this is Bo, he is a 7 year old Brittany Springer and a little sweetheart. He loves to chase balls. He doesn’t care if they’re on the ground, in the water, or set on top of a ladder. He’s also very protective and is already very protective of my unborn human grandchild.
My story in Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space is A GRIM PET, a novella in the Tornian Series:
Grim’s two young daughters discover an injured raptor and their love, faith, and kindness creates far-reaching consequences no one expects.
Twelve leading Science Fiction Romance authors’ team up to deliver a dozen original never released stories that will take you to new worlds! Join New York Times, USA TODAY, and Award-winning authors as they share stories and help out Hero-Dogs.org, a charity that supports our veterans! Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2! Get your copy today! http://www.petsinspaceantho.com
A little more about author M.K. Eidem:
I have always loved to read and writing is just a natural extension of this for me. Growing up I loved to extend the stories of my favorite books and TV shows just to see where the characters went. I’ve been happily married for over twenty-five years to an awesome man and have two great kids. Now that the kids are out of the house, at least most of the time, I’ve found I have the time to write again. USA Today Bestselling Author. Chat with me at: http://www.mkeidem.com.
Connect with M.K. Eidem:
I love anti-heroes. I like heroic characters, too. But anti-heroes really float my boat. I think I first became enamored of anti-heroes as a teen reading Nancy Collins (Sonya Blue) and Tanith Lee (the demons of her Flat Earth novels). Then along came Richard B. Riddick, who will probably always be my favorite anti-hero (although the franchise is slowly eroding my adoration), followed by the 2012 version of Judge Dredd, and most recently, James Delaney in Taboo.
Because I write the stories I want to read, I write anti-heroes. Hale Hauser and his cousin Jon of Snowburn and Lure of Space are anti-heroes of the Riddick/Dredd variety. The demon lord Jou in Neon Blue may seem like the novel’s antagonist, but in my mind he’s the anti-hero of his own story, very much in the vein of Sonya Blue. There are heroic characters kicking around in my stories, but the characters I really want to wallow in are the anti-heroes.
What draws me to anti-heroes? Some of it is definitely the lure of the bad boy (or girl). Anti-heroes have more fun, it seems to me. They get to say and do things that heroic characters wouldn’t or couldn’t (although they don’t rise [or sink, depending on your perspective] to the level of parodic heroes like Deadpool). They occupy spaces avoided by heroes: the gritty underbelly of their societies. Those are the spaces that draw me anyway, and I’d rather follow an anti-hero down those twisty alleyways than walk the hero’s straight and narrow streets.
But there’s a fine line. It’s only a step or two from anti-hero to psychopath. The character J.D. from Heathers typifies this step for me: at the start of the movie he’s a bad boy on a mission to undermine stultifying high school culture, by the end, he’s a suicide bomber. Nothing against psychopaths, but they’re not the characters whose head-space I want to inhabit for several hundred pages.
So how to stay on the right side of that fine line when writing anti-heroes? Comparing a couple of my favorite anti-heroes, there are some noticeable similarities that I think makes them sympathetic rather than psychotic:
The combination of these traits make for a character who is still likeable, but can do some seriously dark and unpleasant deeds. Those are the characers I want to get to know. Those are the characters I want to write.
Any essential anti-hero traits I’ve missed? Leave me a comment!
It’s been an interesting year so far (in the sense of the supposed Chinese curse, “may you live in interesting times”). As I’ve said in a previous post, my family was affected by the Manchester Arena bombing, which led me to withdraw from most of my writing-relating activities to focus on the process of grieving. But I’d actually withdrawn from social media before the bombing, and that’s because of a Series of Unfortunate Events, as I’ve come to think of it (sadly, not the the Lemony Snicket book).
I’m not going to get into the details of what happened, but I’ll sum it up by saying that I became the target of a stalker who initially contacted me online, then by “snail mail.” The contact began with a discussion of my writing, then devolved into personal questions about me, then became threatening (and disgusting). I found the Series of Unfortunate Events initially bizarre, then upsetting and finally quite frightening. Logging into my social media accounts, reading my email and eventually opening my post became a trial and a source of dread.
The stalking has stopped, and the stalker (I think) has realized the error of his ways and offered an apology for his behavior. Although scary, this has been (as with all things), an educational experience for me, and I’ve come up with the following learning points:
So that’s my stalking story, which has a happy ending in that I’m back online and feeling positive again. Also, perhaps bizarrely, these months have been extremely productive in a writing sense: over 200,000 words in a Regency romance I can’t publish, but I’ve had a great deal of fun writing and which was really cathartic during the worst of the stalking and the aftermath of the bombing.
I wouldn’t wish my particular “interesting times” on anyone. Cyberstalking is no fun, even if you’re someone who doesn’t give a shit what other people think of you (and I’m not). But it doesn’t have to grind you down, drive you away, or make you a victim. Illegitimi non carborundum!
(Image used under Creative Commons Licence.)
I’ve been offline for a while. My family was affected by the Manchester Arena bombing, and it’s taken me a while to emerge from the pall that cast over our lives. I’m not ready to talk about that yet, and I’m not up to writing a political post. But I’ve been thinking a lot about motivation and rage, really since the UK vote to leave the European Union. Some of that thinking has coalesced into this post, which is actually about fictional worldbuilding.
For me, worldbuilding starts with geography. I draw maps, name places, and then work my way into the economics and politics of those locales. Settings are characters in themselves for me. I want them to have a life and vibrancy of their own. I also want them to feel realistic, whether it’s the fae Court of the Oak King in Burning Bones or a distant planet colonized by cyborgs in The Stars Avail. Realism starts with historical precedents, which makes me a student of history by necessity.
I don’t know how other students of history will view Brexit and the recent US Presidential Election, but my, perhaps simplistic, read of them is that both were driven by rage. Particularly after Brexit, I spent a lot of time listening to people who voted to leave the EU explain their vote. Some of this was on the mainstream media, but a lot of it was just speaking with business associates, neighbors and folks down the pub. With rare exception, “leavers” admitted that they didn’t really understand what leaving the EU would mean, on a national, or personal, level. The PM resigning, the pound plummeting, the loss of EU funding for agricultural and industrial interests – they hadn’t understood any of it. They’d voted to leave because they were angry. The phrase I heard most often was that they’d “had enough.” Had enough of what? I asked. I got a wide variety of answers – immigrants, austerity, government corruption. But very little had to do with the UK’s membership in the EU. What the leavers were really saying (and what I think the American people have said in electing Donald Trump), is that they have “had enough” of the loss of prosperity and stability that they considered their birthright as Britons and Americans.
This was more than nostalgia for the “American Dream.” It was more than fear of “the Other.” It was fury at deprivation and loss.
I didn’t understand that fury (and neither did the pollsters). Not until I spent some time listening to the “leavers.” Sitting across from the fellow in the pub, watching his face turn purple as he talked about having to wait for two months for a doctor’s appointment because “those immigrants” are monopolizing the NHS’s resources, I began to understand. Watching the YouTube footage of a man frothing at the mouth as he confronts a woman in a burka, telling her to “go home,” even after she explains she was born in the UK, brought the point home a little more. This is not rational. This rage defies analysis. I have to feel it, before I can appreciate why these groups of people acted against their own self-interest.
I have always known that the oppressed will revolt eventually. The sheep look up. What I didn’t understand is that oppression is a matter of degree. The relatively well-off can still feel oppressed if they are deprived of those things to which they feel entitled. That sense of oppression, of loss, of helpless anger, drives people to do things that are not logical. They’re not even intuitive. They make no sense, because they’re driven by pure emotion. The emotions of despair and loss and rage.
I still feel very uncomfortable listening the to the angry “Leaver” down the pub, or watching that YouTube video. But turning my eyes aside is the wrong reaction. In order to appreciate this emotion – and how it might feed into my worldbuilding – I have to let myself feel it. It’s not comfortable. It’s not safe. But it is the sign of our times. The politics of rage.
* * *
Readers often ask me how I come up with my ideas. I tell them it is a mysterious alchemy. The way the light bounces off a skyscraper when I’m on my way to work in the morning makes me think how the sight would emotionally affect my characters. The sight of an impossibly beautiful couple makes me imagine their love story, or perhaps its tragic end.
I love escapism. I want my books to entertain. Life is hard and often boring, so I’ve written a few ripsnorters. I want to take people for a ride, light up their imaginations.
The science fiction/fantasy aspect of my stories is meant to be cool and fun. I have no pretense beyond that. But within that framework, my stories do what stories have always done. They draw you into the minds and emotions of characters and communicate something real by virtue of it.
In the Covalent Series, I’ve created a race of ancient beings who use their great power to keep the elemental forces of Creation and Destruction in Balance. In my fictional world, were it not for these aliens, the elemental forces would expand and transform into each other in an endless cycle. Everything would be destroyed. The Covalent bring stability to the cosmos. They sit at the still center of everything that exists.
So, imagine an immortal Covalent warrior, exiled to Earth because of the sins of his father, Lucifer, who rebelled against the rulers of their realm. Now, imagine this warrior meets an extraordinary human, an FBI agent, strong, smart and fearless, and falls madly in love with her. Not a real life situation, to put it mildly, but their passion teases out interactions that are all too human. Can love succeed when the lovers are not only from different cultures, but different dimensions? Does Barakiel, my heroic warrior, have the right to place the woman he loves in danger, which he does simply by loving her? He has enemies, you see.
Here’s an excerpt from The Pain Season:
Alexandra O’Gara sat on the couch flipping the pages of a magazine, too nervous to focus on reading. Normally, she liked it when Rainer asked her to wait for him at his place. Compared to her crappy little apartment, the ultra-modern space was an oasis of serenity, its sleek lines warmed by the rich wood of the furniture, the colorful rugs and the bright, abstract paintings. She had started a fire in the massive concrete fireplace despite the warmth of the night. She gazed into the flames.
Her phone buzzed. It was Rainer, talking rapidly, panic in his voice. When the call was over, she put the phone in her lap and stared at the floor.
What the hell?
Rainer’s tone led her to believe she should do as he said. Explanation or no, he wasn’t joking.
So much for my instincts. He must be involved in some criminal enterprise.
She suppressed tears as she pulled her service pistol from her bag. A 9mm Sig Sauer. Rainer had said there would be five assailants. She sent a prayer of thanks out to her FBI partner, Mel, who had insisted she get the Sig that took extra-capacity magazines.
Two twenty-round clips. That should do me.
Zan readied her firearm then ran to the front door. Before she opened it, she heard a vehicle drive into the compound. She looked through the peephole. A box truck.
I’ll never make it to my car. Should I call the police? Do I want to do that to Rainer? Have to explain this to my boss? I can slip out the back.
She remembered what Rainer had said about a defensive position. She decided on the weapons room. Its double doors were sturdy and it had an exit to the back balcony. She ran up the stairs. Once inside the room, she grabbed a pike off the wall and slid it through the handles to prevent the doors from opening. She waited. If they seemed like they could bust through, she would exit to the balcony, jump to the ground and hightail it to her car.
All I can do is hope they don’t leave someone outside to cut off my escape.
Zan opened the south-side window. She heard faint voices, doors slamming, the truck pulling away. She also heard sounds like rabid dogs would make if they were as big as grizzlies. Zan had not been afraid before, operating in some state of unreality, but the sounds brought fear screaming to her mind.
What the hell is that?
She ran to peer through the crack between the weapons room doors. She saw them crash through the front. Five huge, scaly, slobbering monsters with double-sided axes in their hands pushed the heavy wooden doors aside like they were paper.
Although not a cliffhanger, The Pain Season is not a stand-alone novel. The story begins in The Passion Season and will continue in The Vengeance Season coming in 2017.
Libby Doyle is an attorney and former journalist who took a walk around the corporate world and didn’t like it. She escapes the mundane by writing extravagant yarns, filled with sex and violence. She loves absurd humor, travel, punk rock, and her husband. You can discover more about Libby’s world at http://www.libbydoyle.com.
(Warning: spoilers for Sicario and Training Day.)
I finally got to Dennis Villeneuve’s Sicario in my Netflix queue last week. I’d heard good things about it and I like the lead actors, so I was excited to watch it. The first half of the movie didn’t disappoint. What a taut thriller! I was quite literally on the edge of my seat during the highway confrontation. I wholly sympathized with Emily Blunt’s Kate Macer character. She’s cool and competent in the face of the film’s opening horrors, but not as hardened by the war on drugs as Benicio del Toro’s chilly veteran, Alejandro Gillick. She wants payback for what she’s seen, but not at any cost. When she sees Gillick and the CIA bad-guy setting up an assassination rather than a prosecution, she tries to stop it by going over their heads to her supervisor. That the film gives her idealism short-shrift is understandable. If there’s a moral message to the film it’s that America is losing the war on drugs not because of what we’re doing, but because of what we’re not willing to do.
But the second half of the movie repulsed me. Not because of Macer’s complicity in the assassination of the Mexican drug lords, or the way her own agency and the CIA turn on her. She’s a whistleblower, and a woman. I wholly believed the “old boys” closing ranks on her. What disgusted me was the way the film portrayed her as increasingly incompetent. The woman who sent her queasy (male) partner outside for air while she unflinchingly showed her superiors around the Chandler house of horrors is reduced over and over. First she has to be rescued from her hook-up turned hitman. Then she has her gun shot out of her hands in the tunnel incursion and is reduced to watching her partner’s “six.” She ends the movie in trembling paralysis, unable to stop Gillick even after he’s destroyed her career and threatened her life. What happened to the competent kidnap-response team commander?
If the point in eroding Macer’s competence this way was to show what happens to American soldiers in guerrilla warfare, then I just don’t buy it. With the exception of the seduction-turned-assassination attempt, her male partner is exposed to pretty much the same circumstances, and he doesn’t fall apart. Is the hidden point that women can’t hack it in war? Or that a woman’s sexuality makes her incapable of being an effective soldier? What is the film saying in having the (male) character that Macer looks to for guidance and approval being the one who destroys her career? Is it telling that the moment Macer quite literally lets her hair down, dresses and behaves like a woman, she’s attacked and nearly killed before Gillick rescues her?
The final scenes of the movie reduce Macer beyond incompetence, to the point of childishness. Gillick makes this abundantly clear when he threatens her and then tells her she looks like his lost daughter when she’s frightened. She’s tiny, barefoot and weaponless as she confronts him. Teary and helpless as he forces her into complicity with the CIA’s very dark political agenda. In one of the film’s most beautiful lines, Gillick tells her to run away to a small town where the rule of law still exists because she’s not a wolf, “and this is a land of wolves now.” Gorgeous language, but what does it say? Women are lambs? Women must be relegated to small-town America where they can be protected? The language may be beautiful but the message is not.
Would Macer’s character have been so reduced if she was a man? Maybe, but comparing Sicario to another thriller that had a similar message, I think not. That movie is Training Day, and although the message is the same, the treatment of the point-of-view rookie character is very different. Ethan Hawke’s character Jake Hoyt suffers a similar erosion of his high moral stance: taking drugs and participating (even if unwillingly) in the murder of a drug dealer. But Hoyt isn’t reduced to trembling inaction. He outwits Denzel Washington’s corrupt veteran and leaves him to a much-deserved fate. That’s a sharp contrast to Macer, outmaneuvered and left stranded Juliette-like on her apartment balcony while the titular hitman (who has now stolen everything from her, including her movie) turns his back on her and walks away.
I’m not asking for every female action hero to be Ellen Ripley. And I don’t mind morally murky films. I’m fine with an ending that shows we’re not winning whatever war we’re fighting: we’re just creating more and more victims. What I mind is making the female action hero one of them.