Get Myths of Gods on Nook here. Get World-Mart on Nook here.
Cerebral Books's exclusive contract with Amazon has ended, and I'm very happy to announce Myths of Gods and World-Mart are now available on Nook, with Finding Poe set to join them soon. While they're still available on Kindle (direct links on the sidebar to the right), they are no longer available for free at Amazon's lending library. It's a tough trade-off, but one that enables broader availability among e-readers.
Get Myths of Gods on Nook here. Get World-Mart on Nook here.
I hope you enjoy them--and if you do, please make sure to leave a review!
Today, I have the pleasure of hosting Michael K. Rose, author of the new release, Chrysopteron. Similar to both my motivations and reservations in writing Myths of Gods, Michael has tackled the sensitive issue of incorporating religious themes in his literature. If you're a Myths of Gods fan, you'll appreciate what he has to say. Thanks so much for stopping by!
Religion: Touching on a Touchy Subject in Fiction
My new science fiction novel Chrysopteron deals with religion. It deals with religion along with issues of self-determination, human nature, sex, the future of our planet. All good stuff, to be sure! But that first one always seems to cause the most trouble.
For many religious people, any discussion of religion, even in fiction, puts them on their guard. Unless they know they are reading religious fiction, I get the notion from reviews I’ve read on Amazon that anything critical of their belief system is unacceptable. I’ve even seen them justify their low ratings on the grounds that the author seemed anti-religion.
For the non-religious, they seem to want religion treated antagonistically. They want a knowing wink from the writer, telling them that he or she is on their side.
I’m generalizing, of course, but these are the attitudes I’ve encountered. So how does a writer handle the issue without alienating a good percentage of potential readers? I don’t know. I’ve still yet to see how my treatment of religion will be received, but I can tell you what I tried to do to address the issue fairly.
First, I used an invented religion. In the novel, the Chrysopteron is a generation ship sent to colonize a distant star. Near the beginning of the book, an event occurs which some of the ship’s inhabitants identify as a miracle and, as a result, a new religion is born. When the ship ultimately reaches its destination, this religion will shape the society that they build and, ultimately, decide how they respond to visitors from Earth hundreds of years later who have come to see why contact was broken off.
Second, I attempted to address the issue from two sides. In Chrysopteron, there are characters who are religious and those who are non-religious. Neither group has a monopoly on “good” or “bad” behavior. How cliché would it have been for me to say “all those people are bad and all these people are good?” Aside from being bad fiction, it does little to reflect the truth of the matter. Religion does not make people good or bad. It can, of course, but a list of good things done in the name of religion and a list of the bad things would not be very different from one another in length. So I have a religious character named Kayti who is a very sweet and sympathetic person. It broke my heart to have to do to her some of the things I did. Then, I also have a priest figure who you will not like at all. The non-religious characters are likewise more complex than being cast as simply “heroes” or “villains.”
Finally, I have attempted to let the reader decide for him or herself whether or not the members of this far-flung human society have, ultimately, made their lives better or worse than they would have been had they lived on Earth. Earth in the future depicted by Chrysopteron is not a particularly pleasant place. Over-population and climate change have led to a planet on which wars are commonplace and misery and suffering is plentiful. The way of life on the planet settled by the Chrysopteron’s crew, however, is a seemingly idyllic, generally peaceful existence—as long as one doesn’t go against the established religious order. I don’t ask the question directly, but would giving up one’s freedom of religion be worth living in such a peaceful society? And do the visitors from Earth have the duty—or the right—to upend this way of life in the interests of the truth?
I won’t give away the answers, of course. I have my own perspective—I’m sure readers of the novel will be able to detect it—and I want them to have theirs. I am not trying to make anyone agree or disagree with me. I simply want to explore religion from the unique perspective afforded by science fiction. If these issues interest you as much as they do me, I hope you’ll have a look at Chrysopteron, and if the novel sparks questions or comments, I am always available to chat with my readers. Whatever your perspective, though, I think it is important to remember that there is no reason we cannot all treat each other with kindness. No matter our differences, no matter our religion, ethnicity, culture or—in the case of my novel—our planet of birth, we are all human beings, and we are all trying to make it in this universe, we are all searching for joy for ourselves and our loved ones. If there is any message I hope readers take away from Chrysopteron, it is this simple yet easily forgotten fact.
Captain John Hayden, haunted by memories of war and still grieving the death of his wife, is about to embark on the most important mission of his career: to discover the fate of the Chrysopteron, one of five generation ships which left the Earth centuries earlier. The descendants of the Chrysopteron’s original crew had successfully colonized their planet, but less than a hundred years later, all contact was lost. Hayden knows that a mysterious new religion which was formed aboard the ship may have played a role in determining the fate of the colonists, but there is no way to know what he and his crew will find when they finally arrive.
In a story that touches on issues of faith and self-determination, Chrysopteron explores the fundamental elements that define our species. Even though we may leave the Earth, we cannot leave behind that which makes us human.
About the Author:
Michael K. Rose is primarily an author of science fiction who also dabbles in horror, fantasy and paranormal fiction.
His novel Sullivan’s War has been called "...a sci-fi thriller that definitely delivers!" and his collection Short Stories has been praised as "...the purest form of literature, as rich as a bottle of Montrachet 1978 and as tasty as a generous cut of Wagyu beef."
His newest novel, Chrysopteron, is already being hailed as a "...gem of a novel..." and "a masterpiece."
Sullivan’s Wrath, the sequel to Sullivan’s War, will be released in early 2013.
Michael K. Rose’s new novel CHRYSOPTERON is now available on #Amazon! US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00APQI9MA UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00APQI9MA @MichaelKRose
Michael K. Rose’s new novel CHRYSOPTERON is being called “A masterpiece.” Get it for #Kindle or #Nook: http://www.michaelkrose.com/chrysopteron @MichaelKRose
For more information, please visit http://www.michaelkrose.com
I’m sure you’re preparing yourself for some clichéd rambling about my writing because I must, or that I knew I was a writer since I was seven, or something else to that effect. While all that might be true, I thought I’d delve a little deeper into the subject, while at the same time offering a few candid words behind my motivations in sharing the written word.
I’m not your typical thirty- (around the corner from forty-) something. I’ve spent much of my life observing rather than participating, documenting rather than doing, and analyzing instead of simply enjoying the moment. I can only assume that a good number of other writers have shared a similar path, although it is a difficult one to admit.
If not in talent, then at least in demeanor, I am a Salinger … a Dickenson … a hermit. I strive to understand the human condition, many aspects of which thoroughly confound me, by exploring it through my writing.
I write from an outsider’s point of view. This is both to my detriment and to my advantage. It is only human to want to connect, and so my greatest wish is to reach others in the only way I truly know how. Throw me into the heart of a booming party, and I’m clueless. My heart will race, my body will glisten with sweat, and I will stand awkwardly in the corner of the room, unsure how to interact. The truth is, I don’t fit in. I’ve never fit in. And it is painfully obvious to anyone who has encountered me in person.
I spent my childhood clinging to my books and my studies for some sense of grounding, while bullies singled me out and chiseled away relentlessly at my self-esteem. They saw my weakness, and as any young person will do, my peers exploited it to their greatest advantage. I spent my high school years finding ways to stay as invisible as possible, lest someone notice the bull’s eye painted across my forehead and the word “outcast” visible within the furthest depths of my horrified eyes. Some people fear spiders, some fear snakes, and some fear the dark. I fear none of those; I fear people.
One of the greatest motivations behind what I write is a stern desire to understand all that eludes me. I seek to gain as much from my works as I would hope others might gain in reading them. Of course, what we each derive will likely be very different, and that is the beauty of it. I write because it is my way of reaching out to you, readers of the world—people I might never otherwise have the chance with which to connect. I write because, although I might not understand you, I know you. I know you very well. That is the gift and the curse of people like me.
So I entreat upon each of you: pick out one of my books, one that might suit you better than the rest. Let us connect through that book. Let me touch you, if I can; in the process, let me offer you a tiny piece of who I am. That is all I have to offer you.
I've been following the "reality television" series Breaking Amish since its premiere, and while anyone who has done any research on the Amish communities (I did so a couple of years ago while entertaining a concept for a novel I allowed to fall through the cracks and into oblivion) might suspect the show was staged, I have felt compelled to continue watching. The idea of a group of young people leaving behind all they know--and the support of all of their loved ones--is compelling. Sadly, this week's episode was unable to pull off the realism portrayed in previous weeks, the rejection met with not a single tear shed by any of the participants being far too telling. It is sad to think the participants have lost everything in order to pursue their dreams, but one must ask how genuine these sacrifices truly are.
Conversely, the upcoming premiere of the new season of Sister Wives, a show about an American polygamist and his four wives, leaves me with a completely different feeling of disdain. This feeling comes not from a group's desire to live by their own religious freedom, but that they feel it is admissible--almost flaunted--because their religious beliefs dictate that it is okay to break the law as long as their religion says it is.
The idea that religion might dictate one's every move might seem foreign, or at least obstructive, to most. However, given the recent political climate, it seems a necessary topic on which to write. There are political challengers who would take away the liberties of others in the name of their own religious beliefs should they be elected, and the prospect of that is terrifying to me. While America was based on religious freedom, it was not based on any one religion's beliefs; one person's religious freedom does not equate to the freedom to dominate others with said beliefs. Religious freedom is religious freedom, be one Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Agnostic, Atheist, or any other creed. The thought of legislation being pursued based on one person's beliefs--thus infringing upon the beliefs and rights of those who do not follow said beliefs--appalls me.
I wrote Myths of Gods for many reasons, but one of the main reasons was my need to address the potential dangers of a theocratic state. When we allow regulations and legislation to be dictated by the religious beliefs of one group, we alienate the liberties of those who fall outside that group. One might do many things in the name of God--restrict, oppress, even kill--but that does not make it right. What is right is working toward the liberty of all the people, regardless of race, creed, or sexual orientation. Doing otherwise in the name of any god is simply blasphemy.
Join me on Sunday, May 19th at 1:00 PM Pacific, chatting with author and host Dan O'Brien: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/musings-from-the-dan-obrien-project/2012/05/20/a-discussion-with-leigh-m-lane
We'll chat about genre, my humble beginnings as an erotica writer, and the future of Cerebral Books. Stop by the website for details on how to call in and join in the fun!
It's my birthday weekend, and to celebrate, World-Mart and Myths of Gods will both be available absolutely free at Amazon's Kindle store January 13-17.
World-Mart is a modern, corporate dystopia that follows one family's struggle to hold together while the world around crumbles all around it. World-Mart recently received a 5-star review from the Kindle book review and also finished in the top 10 in this year's P&E Readers' Choice Poll.
Myths of Gods takes a critical look at religion through an infant God's eyes in a dramatic, dark, science fantasy satire spanning from the Big Bang to present day.
Get them while they're free--and don't forget to tell your friends!
Myths of Gods paperbacks are currenly on sale at Amazon for
$7.91--a total steal! Kindle copies are still $2.99.
About the book:
Explore religion through an infant God's eyes in this dark
science fantasy satire that spans from the Big Bang to present day.
"From the very opening of the book you find yourself captivated
and don't want to put the book down...."
--Keepers of the Underworld Magazine
From reader reviews:
"A fascinating thought provoking story."
"[T]hose who think outside the box will love this book."
"The story was really good, lots of neat twists. I'm glad I took a chance on this book."
My inspiration for Myths of Gods came one warm northern California day, when I went out into my yard to admire the year’s first real day of spring. The yard was lush from the recent heavy rains, birds flew overhead, and fragrant pollen filled the air. Like all transcendentalists, I couldn’t help but relate the scene to God finally waking from the slumber of winter. Like any writer, ideas began to spin through my mind about a character that might embody that sentiment.
When I first wrote Myths of Gods, nearly fifteen years ago, it was in screenplay format. The storyline was crude, there were twelve prophets instead of five, and the theme covered vague abuses of religious power. It hadn’t known what it wanted to be back then, so I filed away the manuscript and set it aside for several years. During that time, I worked on my craft, writing numerous screenplays and short stories, taking classes, and exposing myself to books of all genres. I knew there would be a time when I would revisit Myths of Gods, but only when I was genuinely ready to take on the feat.
About seven years ago, I finally decided to adapt my old Myth of Gods screenplay into a novel. I ended up scrapping over half the characters and rebuilding the story from the ground-up with a stronger sense of theme and satire. I condensed the “gods” to five people embodying five condensed properties: Mind, Matter, Time, Life, and Death. I purposefully blurred the lines between good and evil, inviting the reader to redefine the two, as one character determines, “she of all people knew better than to divide the values of gods and devils.”
The good and bad in people can be just as difficult to define. Myths of Gods takes place in a society where religious leaders govern with great wealth and power over the people. They are opposed to the prophecy that states five virgins will give birth collectively to God, mainly because it discredits their longstanding theocracy. This results in religion, in effect, waging war against God.
The aspect I had the most fun with was balancing the mind of God, Jeza Khess, with her fallible human mind:
Jeza thought back to when she was the unbodied consciousness, and how God had not considered the possibility that the manifested beings would be so wholly human and unforeseeably flawed.
Jeza’s struggles between her human mind and the universal consciousness it struggles to process were ideal for speculating her limits and attributes, which allowed me to take a close, critical look at faith, belief, and consciousness.
Myths of Gods has come a long way since its first incarnation, and I can say with great enthusiasm that the years have done it well. My thanks to all who helped to make it what it is today. It’s been a long and treacherous road, but the journey has been well worth it.
Myths of Gods is now available at Amazon in Paperback and eBook.
When I first heard about a fringe Christian radio host’s rapture prediction, which claimed that the end of the world was to come on May 21, 2011, my initial response was to laugh it off. There have been numerous predicted doomsdays in my time, and this was just one more. However, the more I thought about it, the more it upset me. This was real to the people who believed it—and that was no laughing matter. Good people with great faith, even faith misplaced, do not deserve our ridicule. They deserve our compassion—and they deserve a society that would not take advantage of their willingness to believe.
People have given up their life savings, their personal belongings, and their pride over this most recent religious debacle. One must question not only the personal impact this is going to have on people, but the moral one. One must question how much money Harold Camping was able to make off desperate, scared believers through his supposed doomsday awareness campaign. According to CNN, he has received over eighty million dollars in “donations” since beginning the campaign. One must consider what is going to become of all those who gave up all they had, only to learn that they had been misled. I think of the people who will struggle financially now, while Camping is off living the good life with their money, and I shudder.
My upcoming release, Myths of Gods, takes a critical look at those who use religion as a means of controlling the masses or accruing wealth. I respect people who practice religious beliefs, but I also think it is important for all religious people, no matter who they are or what they believe, to take a closer look at their dogma—and their leaders. Faith is not a bad thing, but faith used as an excuse to commit wrongs against others is immoral on so many levels. There are too many examples for me to choose one or two (and I don’t want this thread to turn into a religious bashing party), but they exist on every religious front. No exceptions.
I know atheists who put down religious thought, saying that belief in anything so farfetched as any dogma warrants their scorn. I say belief is personal, individual, and an aspect to being human. I think it is something that should be respected—as long as no one is getting hurt. Of course, that’s just my personal belief.
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