Author Spotlight: Azure Boone and the MotherFugnWriters

I’ve mentioned my friend and critique partner, Azure Boone, several times here on the blog. I’ve told you she’s an amazing writer, and a wonderful person. Well, today, you get to meet the lady herself! I know you’ll be as crazy about her as I am. Please join me in welcoming Azure Boone, in her guise as the…

MOTHERFUGNWRITER!

Kenra: So, Azure, readers have to know – what the hell *is* a motherfugnwriter?

Azure: Well, it’s a title for the Mother and Wife Writer. The –fugn- part (which I’ve told my husband is German for love and pronounced few-gen, LOL) represents two things to me: that thing we do as “wives”, and the bad-ass women we actually ARE. The original phrase was “Mother Fucking Writer”. But, virgin ears and all….

Kenra: Let’s all hope Azure’s hubby never gets curious enough to look that word up! Or mention it to someone who knows German… Azure, what made you start motherfugnwriters?

Azure: Umm, well, mainly to form a cyber-place where mom/wife writers could relax and meet other women they could relate to. Motherfugnwriters often feel alone, despite having children. We’re behind the scenes doing all the necessary shit nobody else wants to do. I thought it would be nice to have a place where we could let our hair down – maybe even cuss a lot, since we play a saint all day long.

We talk about the things we don’t have anyone else to talk to about. Which is one of the reasons my posts are often of a “wifely/writerly” nature, as well as motherly.

Kenra: Tell us about this Zazzle store you’ve been burning the midnight oil to set up.

Azure: I create products that would make great gifts for writers – T-shirts, mugs, hats and shit with funny writer slogans that highlight the secret and alien life of Writers. So I decided to set them up in an online store.

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Kenra: What inspires your posts? Some of them are a bit… ahem… unique.

Azure: Gosh, my posts seem to be PMS inspired I think. Like a random stream of conscious, wherever my life takes me, that’s what’s getting posted. I usually keep it geared to Writing, which is easy, since it’s what I love doing and studying.

Kenra: What do you do in real life? What’s your day-in-the-life of a MFW?

Azure: Well it’s LOUD, for one thing. I have 8 kids, 9 if I count my grandson.  But don’t panic, 3 of them take care of themselves, so that leaves me with… err 5, sometimes 6. I home school 3, soon to be 4, of the 5 right now. The challenge, which I’ve kinda overcome, was juggling it all.

We all work together. My kids do laundry – yes, washing, drying, and folding – they do dishes, everything except mop the floors and clean the toilets, in fact.

Kenra: What 3 of your posts would you most like to share with readers here?

Azure: I’m partial to the last one I did, Killing The Erotic Muse, and I liked Getting Wet And Ready about getting in the mood… Oh, and I liked Naked Bare Back Muse Riders For Hire. I know, I love these wacky titles.

Kenra: Where else can we find you online?

Azure: Here’s my author blog, Google Plus, Facebook Page, and Twitter.

Kenra: One final thing. Azure’s Paranormal Romance, Devil Wants A China Doll, will soon be available. Her main character, Rone, is possessed by the demon of Lust and Rage. He manages to live life because he has a  psychic shield that prevents the demon from contaminating anyone he has contact with – important because the demon can make a person commit suicide by sex. Then he meets Sheeku, with big problems of her own. Sheeku bypasses Rone’s shields and lives to tell the tale. For a while, anyway.

Azure, will you share a little with us?

Azure: You know I will! This is a make-up scene, after Sheeku thinks Rone cheated on her with another woman.

I kissed her teary cheek softly.

Her hand was suddenly in my hair, sliding on my face.

Oh God, no, please… don’t do that.  Not now, I won’t stop…

            She slowly turned her face to me and no force in Heaven could move me away.  And there she was, staring up at me with glittery blue eyes, offering a chance to redeem myself.  Make it better, please do it.  Make it better.

            The burning stab in my chest combined with the fire in my groin.  I closed my eyes.  Shield was on tight, but what if this was the demon’s doing?

            She slowly sat up and my body matched her every move, magnetized, trapped in her pull.  So much need to fill, and pain to erase.  And she wanted me to do it.  The nice guy with the soul-eating devil.

            I could only watch as she put her hands on my shoulders and climbed into my lap, facing me.  My hands clamped on her waist as heat bolts shot through my groin.  I wrapped her in a hard embrace, wanting to feel her completely, no, prevent her from doing more, prevent me from ripping her clothes off.

I pressed my face to her chest, listening to the frantic life calling for me.  I embraced her closer, wanting her to be real.  Fuck, she was, she was so real.

In one push, the buried man inside me broke free.  I dug hungry fingers into firm muscle at the junction of her jeaned thighs.  Her breath drew in sharp and the sound struck the demon’s cell.  The demon struck back hard, and I strained my mind, solidifying the quiver in his cell while sliding my hands slowly and firmly up, feeling her body beneath the light t-shirt.

I wanted that satiny skin beneath it more than ever.  “Sheeku.” My fingertips pressed on their way back down.  Down, until I filled my hands with her perfect ass.  I squeezed hard and pressed her tight to my stomach.

            “Rone.”

The desire in her voice slammed me with terror.  I waited for her to call my demon’s name next.

She didn’t.

            My hands surged back up her body, the man in me knowing the time was short.  He hurried to take before being locked away, one hand pressing those perfectly shaped breasts into my chest, those bite-me nipples driving me to the point of orgasm. Hunger purred up my throat as I wrapped the base of her hair with trembling fingers.

            I pulled her head back and stared at her slender neck.  Her nails dug into my shoulder blades and desire raced on fiery currents through my veins.  I studied the creamy column.  She was life and I would die if I didn’t taste her.  Just once.

            I opened my mouth and leaned with a groan.  I licked the satin, slow and hard.  Salty… sweet… fucking delicious. “Sheeeeeku,” I breathed into her neck.

            Then it was there, bitter and biting into my gut.  Her fear.

“Stop, please,” she gasped.

Keep checking back here for updates on Azure’s work!

A Hero To Die For

**Just a note before your regularly scheduled post. WordPress has offered the opportunity for bloggers to protest SOPA/PIPA, either by going dark today, or displaying the “Stop Censorship” Ribbon until the Jan 24th  Senate vote on SOPA/PIPA, or both. I decided to go with the ribbon, for various reasons.

As a writer, I am 100% against online piracy and theft of Intellectual Property. If I choose to give my work away, I will do so, but I don’t want anyone stealing it from me. But I do NOT believe this legislation is the way to go about protecting against those crimes. I urge EVERYONE in the US to contact their US Senators and tell them point-blank, “Do NOT support SOPA/PIPA if you want to SERVE another term!” Remind them they serve at the pleasure of the people, to represent the people.

If they do not accurately represent you, WORK against them in their next re-election bid. Don’t bitch about the poor job they do if you sit home on election day and justify your lack of fulfilling your civic responsibility by whining that the rich dude or the corporate dude or the insert-your-own-adjective dude will win no matter what. He absolutely WILL if you, and everyone else, continue to sit on your ass and do nothing about it. If you do the work, and he wins anyway, then at least you have the right to bitch. And next time, work harder!

OK. ‘Nuff said. Let’s get on with it.

A Hero To Die For

This piece originally appeared on GraveTells.com, Nov. 4, 2011. I wrote it as part of “The Hero Chronicles Discussions Series”. I’ve decided to run it again here, as part of my ongoing “Nailing Down the Essentials” Writer Wednesday series. It’s the second (here’s the first) post in a series on character development that I’ve been thinking about for a while. You can expect further entries on other types of characters, like heroines, villains, sidekicks, secondaries, and throw-aways/red-shirts.

So, here we go. (Oh, and despite serious temptation, I left out the NSFW pics that really wanted to be included. *sigh* The sacrifices I make for you.)

A Hero To Die For

You know him – the one that makes your heart pound at the thought of being near him, and not just because he’s so beautiful. Being the woman that wins his heart would satisfy you in a way nothing else could. He’s the Hero.

Impressive Cardboard?

Romance novel heroes tend to get a bad rap in the rest of the literary world. What’s that? …Oh, right. The rest of the world, literary or not. Many people believe heroes are just gorgeous faces with chiseled jaws, ripped bods with washboard abs. And don’t forget the “impressive manhood”.

Paranormal Romance heroes have an even worse rep. They’re supposed to be all-the-above, plus they’re either emo vampires, or savage werewolves, bad angels, or redeemable demons. Sci-Fi Romance has its misunderstood aliens. Historical Romance has the rakehell noblemen. Non-Romance readers probably associate all the subgenres with some stereotypical Hero or other.

The few who are so one-dimensional are the ones to get noticed, and perpetuate the misconceptions. No wonder non-Romance readers don’t want to get to know them. I wouldn’t either, if that were truly all they were. Fortunately, there’s sooo much more to a good Hero.

The Perfect Hero

But what makes a really good Hero? What makes him who he is? Can he be imperfect? Damaged? Not physically beautiful? That’s what we’re here to figure out.

A person’s appearance is often our first impression. Our, and the Heroine’s, first impression of the Hero is no different. What is it about him that catches her, and our, attention? I’ve read Heroes with phenomenal good looks, and just average appearances, and a few who were horribly scarred. But there’s something more, some indefinable quality, about all of them. Whatever it is, that quality makes them utterly beautiful to their Heroine.

A man’s actions can tell us a lot about him. There are good boys and bad boys, both in novels and in real life. The bad ones seem to be favored right now, just begging to put the past behind them and start all over with the right woman (though we all know that in real life, bad boys usually stay bad). But just because he’s bad, doesn’t mean he can’t have a good side. And even the good boys will do bad things if they have to, and since life is messy, they often do. Then we have Alphas, who take charge naturally, and Betas, who step up when it matters, and both can be sexy as hell.

But appearance and personality are just parts of the person, like so many pieces of the puzzle. What really brings a Hero to life is change. If he’s the same man at the end of the book as he was at the beginning, he’s just window dressing – a hot body to fill in certain empty spaces in the book. Not a real person.

At a bare minimum, he has to have a conflict, and work to resolve it. Ideally, he’ll be conflicted in several areas of his life, both internally and externally. Real people can fight the bad guys, and work on overcoming a phobia stemming from a childhood trauma, while seeing that their elderly mom has what she needs, and making bullies leave the neighbor’s kid alone, all while they’re coming to terms with the monster that lives in their heart, and so can a Hero. While he’s dealing with whatever trouble the author throws at him, he can also handle issues from a bad childhood, along with a jealous ex. Our Hero might not settle all his conflicts, but he will grow as a person because of them.

Romances from a couple of decades ago were full of Heroes who swooped in on their white horses and rescued the Heroine, whether she wanted to be saved or not. Today’s ideal Hero (with an action based plot) fights at his Heroine’s side to save both their asses, and is just as likely to need rescuing as she is. If there’s no bad guy, he’ll still fight, in whatever way necessary, to win his Heroine’s heart. He might start out being an arrogant a$$hat, but he’ll learn to respect his Heroine’s opinion and abilities, and to rely on her.

But what really tops it all off, turns a hot, exciting man into the perfect Hero? Love. Whether he’s a good boy, or bad, alpha, or beta, his love for his Heroine makes him perfect. The kind of love that makes him willing to give up his own life, or the very essence of who he is, for her. He will go through hell and back, and we hope for an ending that allows him to survive, win the heroine’s love, and spend the rest of his life loving her.

One of my favorites is JR Ward’s Vishous. What I like about him is that he comes with baggage of several varieties. He’s also not just a muscle bound warrior – he’s fearsomely intelligent and tech savvy. Definitely not a good boy, he’s a stone cold killer when necessary, and into some pretty hardcore BDSM, but he’ll do anything for the people he cares about. While he’s gorgeous, he’s not the traditional so-handsome-it-hurts-to-look-at-him beautiful. Doc Jane, his Heroine, is his reason for living. He might be a character in a novel, but he’s real.

Who Are Your Favorites?

Who are your favorites? Why? Do you prefer bad boys, or good boys? Alphas or Betas? Movie-star-handsome, or not? Describe your perfect Hero – not just how he looks, but those aspects of him that make him who he is.

Ring In The New Year With These Amazing Ebooks!

I’m promoting ebooks on the blog today!

If you’re an author…

You’re invited to add the blurb and buy link to your Romance (any sub-genre or heat level) or Urban Fantasy, in the comments below.

Promote by sharing the url ( http://wp.me/p1w1MU-9k ) to this post, with the hashtag #newyearsbookpromo.

Thanks to Skhye Moncrief, a friend from my blogging network, for the idea, and getting the ball rolling with some of the others from the network.

Sharing Saturday – The Hero Chronicles

Sir Galahad, a hero of Arthurian legend, detai...

Sir Galahad: Image via Wikipedia

Some of you know I occasionally do reviews and blog posts for GraveTells.com. All during November, GraveTells is hosting a Discussion Series The Hero Chronicles. Each week will focus on a different aspect of the books we love: Heroes, Heroines, Villains, and World/Setting. And each week, one commenter will be selected to receive some random swag. At the end of the month a Gift Card for the Book Depository will be given away!

This week, check out my post, A Hero To Die For, and tell us all about your favorite  Hero, and the qualities that make him perfect. Your comment might just be the winning one! Then come back each week for a new segment. See you there!

Six Sentence Sunday

This week’s six is from BLOOD DRAGON.

Kiellen and Jaden are having dinner together. Despite his best efforts, he is hopelessly attracted to her. He has to keep reminding himself that isn’t okay – not only is she a vampire, but she is the subject of his mission, and has been recently brutalized by the humans he rescued her from. There has to be something very wrong with him thinking of her that way.

She dropped a bit of sesame chicken. His heart stopped. The morsel rested in her cleavage, tempting him to reach over and pluck it out. He bit his tongue to stop his mind from going there.

She laughed at herself and fished the chicken out with her napkin while he stared, fascinated. She glanced up and caught his eye and froze for a moment. 

Kiellen is about to find out exactly what Jaden thinks of his attraction to her.

Writing Sex

Sex scenes. They can be funny, embarrassing, or arousing for the reader. As writers, we have to decide which effect we want, though the funny and embarrassing aren’t always intentional. Years ago, I used to skip the sex scenes.  I had no interest in how other people did it.  Then I realized I was missing out on some of the development characters went through.  The sex scenes weren’t there solely to arouse, but to show important emotional or personal development of the characters.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The first decision the writer has to make is whether to even include sex scenes. In one of the online writing communities I belong to, there have been a couple of heated debates about sex in fiction.  One side says it simply doens’t belong, is never necessary, and some say it’s absolutely wrong. The other says that if it shows character development or advances the plot, it’s entirely necessary.

I used to believe that writers included sex because, let’s face it, sex sells, and that there was no other reason.  Now, I know most writers inlcude sex because there’s no other way of showing what they need the reader to see in the character.  Or at least no other way that fits the story.  If it means the book sells better, then so be it.  Of course, there are writers who include sex because it sells.  That doesn’t make them worse writers, as more than one argument held.  It just means they’ll use all available tools to ensure the story sells.

When I decided I wanted to write romance, I also had to decide whether to fade to black, or to use every tool available to me to tell the story.  So, I made the decision.  I would use the sex between my characters to show their development, and to advance my plot. Then I had to decide how much and how graphic. Passionate kissing? Heavy petting? The sex act in sort of vague terms? All focused on the emotion? Or completely explicit? I decided, after much deliberation, and a ton of research, to go for completely explicit. I wanted to show the beauty of my couples’ love, their devotion and reverence, as well as things about each character that could only be shown in an explicit scene.  All I had to do was learn how to write a sex scene. Should be easy enough.

It wasn’t. Writing a good sex scene isn’t just recounting what the characters do with what body part. What they think and feel has to be included.  And the characters have to grow as a result of what they do and feel.  It has to be romantic and believable at the same time.  It has to fit the story and the characters.  A generic sex scene can’t just be plugged in anywhere.  I wrote a lot of bad sex scenes before I learned to do it right, and each one I write is better than the last.

When I first started trying to learn to write a sex scene, I was embarrassed. Felt like a dirty old man looking through my characters’ window.  Eventually, I got over that, and started to enjoy getting to know my characters at their most vulnerable.   Stacia Kane’s Be A Sex Writing Strumpet series helped me a great deal.  In it, she explores all the ins and outs of writing good sex scenes.

In the end, every writer has to decide for themselves if they’re going to include sex in their stories, and if they do, how much and how graphic.  We have to do what’s right for the best interest of the story, to tell it in the way that will have the most impact on readers.  For me, that means including sex when necessary. For some, religious beliefs dictate the decision. For others, it’s embarrassment, shyness, lack of knowledge, or even fear of the relatives finding out. We have to consider all that, and other factors, in our decision.

Do you include sex in your stories? How much? Explicit or not? How did you arrive at your decision?

Romance Novel Pet Peeves Part 2

This one really isn’t about the actual novels, but about those who criticize Romance as a genre. In recent months, various people, from writers of literary fiction to someone calling herself an expert in psychology, have publicly bashed Romance.

Romance novels have been called everything from unrealistic and unimaginative to outright dangerous. The image of romance readers as vapid housewives fanning themselves and eating bonbons while reading about a pirate ravishing a virgin still prevails in some minds. The so-called danger comes in with accusations that Romance novels cause readers to have unrealistic expectations for their relationships. Readers supposedly expect their balding, slightly overweight accountant husband to behave like the virile, dashing hero. When the hero doesn’t fulfill those expectations, the reader becomes dissatisfied with her life.

While other genres are allowed to be blatantly unrealistic, with elves and fairies, aliens and spaceships, Romance is criticized for being unrealistic. The characters and relationships, the central focus of the book, bears the brunt of this criticism. A hero who is willing to listen to his heroine, or put her before himself, or even have her best interests at heart, is too unrealistic, as is the man who swoops to the rescue. Well, duh! The idea is to take the reader to a different place, where her dreams of the perfect man are realized, not where the man would rather watch the game and drink beer than spend time with her. The heroine draws her share of the hate, too, never mind that she’s meant to be the kind of woman the reader can wish circumstances allowed her to be.

And then there’s the belief that all Romance novels are written by the same formula. The only thing that changes, such critics say, is the name of the characters and details of the circumstances or conflict. This one is hard to refute at times, especially when some writers believe it as well. The fact is, some writers find a combination of factors that works for them, and continue to use it. Others start from scratch every single time. Part of what perpetuates this myth is that, in order to be a Romance, the focus of the novel must be the couple and their developing relationship, and there must be a Happily Ever After, or Happily For Now ending. Regardless of what other elements are present, if those aren’t there, it isn’t a Romance.

One of my favorites is the belief that Romance novels are easier to write than any other genre. People think all you do is plug the variables into the equation, add an exotic location, and viola, you have a Romance novel. Sorry, just not true. It doesn’t work that way. If anything, it’s more difficult to write a good romance, especially one of the many sub-genres. The author has to combine the romance with elements of another genre in a way that’s balanced, and satisfies the reader. A plot is absolutely essential. There has to be a source of conflict, either from outside sources, or internal – and in some cases, both. And the conflict must have a satisfactory solution.

And everyone knows Romance is full of poor writing and purple prose. Again, just not true. The quality of the writing in a Romance novel is just as high as any other genre. Sure, it might not be full of convoluted sentences and obscure words, but the standards are high for both traditionally, and e-published, novels. (Just like in any genre, self-published, or indie, novels vary in quality, depending on the ability of the writer and whether they’ve put the in the necessary time and work to prepare the book for publication.) As for the purple prose – yes, Romance novels written 20 or more years ago commonly used euphemism and purple prose to refer to the body parts and actions in intimate scenes. Social mores were different then, and the frank language of today wasn’t tolerated as well then. Today’s romances are written with mature language and eschew purple prose as much as any other genre.

To all those critics of Romance as a genre, I say: Our readers are educated and accomplished, from powerful CEOs, trial attorneys, teachers, parents and grad students. Our characters are as solid and well developed, maybe more so because of the very nature of Romance, as those of any other genre. Our stories are as well plotted and imaginative, and well written as those of any other genre. Our vocabulary is as complex and varied as as that of any other genre – with the possible exception of the fact that we don’t normally use obscure words that require our readers to stop every few sentences to refer to their collegiate dictionary. Yes, we write about fantastic heroes and heroines that our readers can imagine themselves in the place of. Rather than creating unrealistic expectations of relationships, our stories often inform readers of the ideal relationship. Sometimes, they have no other point of reference for ideal relationship standards. Yes, we do write fiction that allows our readers to escape their every day life for a while. Doesn’t everyone?

The following links are from both detractors and defenders of Romance as a genre.

What do you think? Are the critics right about Romance? Is their position founded on fact?