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Guest Author Wednesdays ♥ Kendall McKenna

Hello everyone! I’m ecstatic to have M/M Romance Author Kendall McKenna with me here today, or rather, she’s taking over today. Please say hi and leave her a comment or two below… and don’t forget to enter the Giveaway at the bottom of the fun excerpt. :c) Enjoy!

Kendall McKenna is an author of M/M erotic romance novels.

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, where she still lives and works. 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.

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Hello, my name is Kendall McKenna. I write M/M Erotic Romance novels and novellas. Thank you for joining me today on Tempeste O’Riley’s blog.

When I first signed up to write this entry, I had just received a new review on an old release that made me realize something: a negative review isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

This particular review was positive and the reviewer liked the story overall. Buried in the middle of it was a criticism of my narrative style. Some of my choices were not to the reviewer’s taste. You know what? I was totally cool with that.

It made me chuckle a little bit, because this reviewer’s complaint had been a point of praise from nearly every previous reviewer. It was something I consciously constructed in an effort to set a tone and create a mood. The narrative completely matched the POV character. It set the story apart from most in the genre and it set me apart as a writer. So this reviewer didn’t like it, that was okay. I knew going into this that I would not make 100% of the readers happy 100% of the time.

I want to produce a quality product, first and foremost. For the most part, reviewers have all agreed that I do produce quality stories. Do I appeal to everyone? No. Are my characters and stories what everyone wants to read? Certainly not. And that is more than okay. It occurred to me that if a reviewer mentions something that I was consciously trying to achieve, that means I succeeded. It doesn’t matter that what I tried to do isn’t to their taste, they saw it! I succeeded!

Since the time I signed up to write this post, another title of mine has been released. Strength of the Pack is about a Marine Corps where werewolves serve side-by-side with humans. The romance leads to a rather unique and legendary pairing between two of the Marines. The majority of the story is set in Afghanistan and contains my typical amount of military technical jargon and combat scenes.

The response to the story took me by surprise. Fans of the shifter genre love it. Readers who have grown tired of the same ‘ole, same ‘ole in shifter stories love it. I don’t read shifter stories as a general rule, so I have no idea what the common tropes are. I don’t know how these stories have been written over the years. I just wrote my own world as I would like it to be if shifters were real. Apparently, it’s a great deal different than most of what’s come before.

So here’s my final point about reviews and reviewers. While the initial response to Strength of the Pack has been overwhelmingly positive, at some point, reviewers are going to surface who do not like the story because it diverges so greatly from the traditionally written shifter stories. There are readers out there who like the genre as it is, for what it is, and they aren’t going to like anything that is different. And that’s okay. I’m still very proud of the work I did. I like my Marines and my werewolves. I’ll stick with the same writing style and the same formula for sequels, and those whose tastes run in different directions will write reviews that say that very thing. My feelings won’t be hurt at all.

If a reviewer mentions their disappointment that my stories don’t contain any of the traditional elements of shifter stories, it still means I succeeded. They may not like different, but they recognize my story is different, and that means I achieved something. I’m happy with that.

So, are you curious about the book everyone is talking about? Check out the info below on Strength of the Pack.

     

Strength of the Pack

Lieutenant Lucas Young doesn’t know much about shifters. When Sergeant Noah Hammond is assigned to Lucas’ platoon, the Marine Corps’ True Alpha werewolf challenges the Lieutenant’s authority and his self-control. As Lucas learns to dominate and command Noah, he struggles against a strong attraction and deepening emotional bond.

During their combat deployment to Afghanistan, Lucas and Noah begin mirroring legendary partnerships. Their bond and their power grow as they survive dangerous combat and ambushes. When one of them is wounded in battle, they both must embrace the strength of their bond before they lose each other forever.

Lucas pulled his SUV into the parking lot. The sun blazed orange and hung low over the ocean, streaking the sky with shades of red and purple. Lucas estimated it was about forty-five minutes before sunset. There were several vehicles already parked, but Lucas knew there would be many more rolling in.

Noah was easy to spot, leaning against the spare tire of a Jeep, legs crossed at the ankles. A thrill ran the length of Lucas’ spine as he took the parking place beside the Jeep. Stepping out into the still warm evening, he realized he wouldn’t need the jacket he’d brought.

“I will admit, Lieutenant,” Noah said by way of greeting, “I didn’t think you’d actually show up.” His eyes were glittering silver.

“I said I would, Sergeant,” Lucas replied. “Why would you doubt it?”

“Not a mistake I will make again,” Noah drawled laconically.

Lucas knew there was more meaning behind that statement than was immediately obvious. He held out the clipboard with the roster of werewolves expected to show tonight. “Do you already have one of these?”

Noah glanced at the list and back up into Lucas’ eyes. “I won’t need that, sir. But if it makes you feel better to use it as a back-up, by all means.”

He knew Noah was laughing at him, and Lucas bristled. “You can keep track of exactly who shows up tonight and if they make it back in the morning, without writing anything down?”

“Yes, sir, I can.” It was a simple statement of fact, devoid of any arrogance.

“Since we’re off duty, we can set rank aside for the evening,” Lucas said, wondering at the wisdom of his words even as he spoke them. “Explain to me how you keep track of such a large group of shifters.”

“Yes…Lucas,” Noah replied. His face was expressionless, but his voice was laced with humor. “At the end of the night there will be two distinct scent trails for everyone who turns out for the run. If there’s any trail that goes out but doesn’t return, I’ll use that to track down the missing werewolf.”

Lucas ignored the tug of attraction he felt at Noah’s subtle amusement. “Does that happen often?” he asked brusquely.

“No, Lucas. Not very.”

Lucas suppressed a shiver at the husky, suggestive way Noah said his name. It had to be due to his impending shift into wolf form. He watched as Noah’s nostrils flared slightly.

“When it does,” Noah continued. “It’s usually a case of someone misjudging how far out they’ve run. Occasionally, I have to deal with trapped legs or lacerated paw pads.”

Lucas thought of how Noah always seemed to be scenting him. “Is that how you all keep track of each other?” He silently chastised himself for hoping he was something special.

Noah’s eyes narrowed as he studied Lucas for several seconds. “Are you asking if every werewolf is able to differentiate between over a hundred individual scent trails and identify the age of each trail?”

Not really. “Yes.”

“No.”

The abrupt answer took Lucas by surprise. He waited for Noah to elaborate but quickly realized he didn’t intend to.

“So it’s a skill unique to Alphas?” Lucas persisted.

“Having the ability to monitor several different scent trails contributes to an Alpha being able to successfully lead a pack.”

Lucas forced himself to be patient. It was like pulling fucking teeth. He decided to meet Noah’s silence with his own.

Finally, Noah pushed off from the Jeep and said, “True Alphas can track and monitor larger packs. It manifests naturally; we don’t have to develop it.”

Lucas nodded thoughtfully. That was a hell of a useful skill to have.

“Listen up,” Noah suddenly shouted, causing Lucas to jump. “Everybody check in and out with my Lieutenant, here. He’s standing Sentinel, so make it easy for him.”

Lucas looked around, abashed that the parking lot had begun to fill up while they’d stood there talking, and he hadn’t noticed. How such a large group had remained so quiet baffled him.

As the Marines passed by, each one called out his or her name. Lucas checked the first box for each one on his alphabetized list. The entire process went quick and smooth. As the group checking in dwindled, Lucas turned to find Noah kicking off his shoes.

“Now what?” Lucas asked, surprised at his own informality.

Noah opened the back of the Jeep and pulled out several plastic tarps that he handed off to other Marines. “We walk out into the setting sun, get naked and shift into wolves.”

Lucas’ mouth went dry at the mental picture of Noah stripping himself naked. “And the tarps?” he asked distractedly.

“Nobody likes putting on clothes that have lain in the dirt all night.” Noah’s grin made Lucas’ chest tighten.

“Of course,” Lucas replied, wondering when he’d lost the power of deductive reasoning.

The large group had almost all moved out into the growing dusk. “I should warn you; some of us are going to show back up in different states of…arousal,” Noah said, looking like he was avoiding meeting Lucas’ eyes. “There could be squabbling. There will definitely be some fucking. It’s typical. Just ignore it.”

Lucas wasn’t sure how to respond. He stared wordlessly at Noah for several long moments. “Seriously?”

“Ever been in combat?” Noah asked, finally looking directly at Lucas with his silver eyes.

“Yes.” Lucas wondered what that had to do with anything.

“Similar reaction,” Noah replied.

Lucas suddenly understood. “Copy that.”

“Are you really going to sit in your car all night waiting for us to come back?” Noah asked abruptly.

Why was this so fucking hard to believe? “I’ve got a book, a thermos and a cell phone. If something goes wrong out there, send someone with a message, and I can get help.”

Noah gave a slight shake of his head. “Are you for real?” he muttered.

“Excuse me?” Lucas had no clue how to answer, or if he even should.

“The first of us should start showing back up just as it gets light,” Noah said over his shoulder as he walked into the dark, his hips rolling slowly, broad shoulders cutting a defined silhouette.

Lucas locked down the sudden spike of lust that rocketed through him. “What’s the appropriate thing to say, right now?” he asked, hoping levity would dispel the sudden awkwardness. “Good luck? Stay safe? Play nice with the other wolves, and don’t pick up any strange fleas?”

Noah stopped in his tracks and slowly turned back. Lucas was sure he’d crossed some sort of line of inappropriateness. He mentally berated himself for openly flirting with an NCO under his command.

Relief washed over him when Noah suddenly grinned. “I wondered if there was any spirit to go with that brain.”

Lucas stayed rooted to his spot, speechless, blood thundering in his ears, as he watched Noah walk into the darkness.

Strength of the Pack is available from:       

MLR Press
http://www.mlrbooks.com/ShowBook.php?book=KMSTPACK
ARe
https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-strengthofthepack-1045083-139.html 

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VETERANS NEED YOUR HELP

Thousands of service men and women are returning home with varying degrees of physical and emotional wounds. More of our troops have survived catastrophic amputations than in any previous conflict. As of 2012, suicide killed more service members than combat. Nearly all veterans suffer from some level of PTS.
 

If you could spare a few dollars and a little time for our military heroes, past and present, it would be greatly appreciated. Below are some links to a few worthwhile organizations that provide services for troops who are overseas, and those who have returned home.

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USO

CUP OF JOE

ANY SOLDIER

WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT

VETS ADOPT PETS

BATTLE BUDDIES – service dogs for service heroes