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Saturday, May 8th, 2021
A New Book in the Dragon Investigators Series

Yay! At long last, I have a new addition to my Dragon Investigators series: Snow Moon Dragon. My trip to visit Antarctica and the island of South Georgia gave me the inspiration for this story, but as always there is also a touch of my home country New Zealand.

Here is the cover, designed by the wonderful Kim Killion at Killion Publishing.

Snow Moon Dragon

The blurb:

Love is a curse but also a blessing…

Dragon shifter Nyree Wirihana escapes an abusive relationship and travels to the far-flung island of South Georgia for a fresh start. No more dating for her. She’s finished with men. Instead, she’s content to work and explore the island while photographing the cute penguins and seals.

Dragon shifter Tāwera suffers from a curse, and for hundreds of years, he has lain in a rock pool with no hope of escape or revenge on the brother who turned him to stone.

A chance encounter changes everything, and suddenly Nyree is experiencing unique problems. Dragon problems. Romantic problems. Her peaceful man-free life becomes complicated, then danger strolls into her sanctuary and the situation becomes so much worse.

You’ll enjoy this dragon romance because it contains a sexy tattooed warrior from the past plus a strong heroine who has regained her mojo and isn’t afraid to kick dragon butt and face threats head-on. Sit back and enjoy the sensual sparks.

Snow Moon Dragon is available for pre-order from your favorite online store, and releases on 18 May 2021.

Saturday, May 1st, 2021
Meet the King Penguin: Ten Facts About the King Penguin

One of the things I was most looking forward to seeing when we visited the Antarctica region was the penguins. Penguins are fascinating birds, and I never tired of seeing them or watching their antics.

A king Penguin Colony

Facts about King Penguins

1. They’re the second-largest species of penguin.

Close Up of a King Penguin

2. They weigh up to 15kg and grow to around 3.1 feet in height.

3. It’s estimated there are around 2 million breeding pairs, but some say there are far more than this.

King Penguins on the Beach

4. The largest colony is found on the island of South Georgia, although they also live in Antarctica and on the south coast of Argentina.

5. King penguins eat fish and squid.

6. Penguins have two chicks every three years, and their varied breeding season means that there are always a few chicks within a colony.

A King Penguin Chick

7. The penguin chicks have wooly brown coats before they molt and the adult feathers grow. Early explorers thought they were a different species of penguin.

King Penguin chicks and adults in the background

8. King penguins don’t make nests but carry their eggs around in a brood patch.

9. King penguins will change partners for each breeding season.

10. Leopard seals hunt the adult penguins while the skua bird attacks both the eggs and chicks.

Source: Cool Antarctica

King Penguins on South Georgia

Some of the many King penguins on one of South Georgia’s beaches.

Snow Moon Dragon, book 4 in the Dragon Investigators series, is coming out soon. Snow Moon Dragon is set on South Georgia and King penguins are mentioned a time or two.

Saturday, April 24th, 2021
A Visit to South Georgia Island

South Georgia is a small island in the southern Atlantic Ocean. It’s a British territory, and the island’s nearest neighbors are Antarctica and the Falkland Islands.

Until I visited the region in early 2020, I’d never even heard of South Georgia. Now I know what I missed out on! South Georgia is a nature lover’s paradise and will be forever linked with Sir Ernest Shackleton, the great explorer since Grytviken is his final resting place.

It’s not an easy place to reach, and we visited as part of our journey to Antarctica. My upcoming release, SNOW MOON DRAGON, is set mainly in South Georgia.

Our first stop was Fortuna Bay. We went ashore via zodiacs and watched some of the thousands of residents. The air is so crisp and clean, although you do get a whiff of penguin poo. It’s quite a unique scent, but I didn’t mind the aroma. I was too busy checking out the local characters.

Fortuna Bay, South Georgia

This is the view of the bay from our ship, Le Soleal, which is part of the Ponant fleet.

Seal pups hanging out on beach

We saw lots of Antarctic Fur seal pups. They hang around on the beach and in the shallows, playing together and waiting for Mum to come home. They’re cute and very curious. It was very hard not to get too close since they seemed to have no fear of the two-legged creatures wearing bright orange coats.

King Penguins

We visited Fortuna Bay to see the King penguins and see them we did. They are magnificent birds. On land, they can be clumsy, but they are graceful blurs of speed in the water. Very difficult to get a photo of a speeding penguin!

King Penguin

A close-up of one of the handsome penguins. They are striking with their yellow coloring.

Penguins and glacier

The scenery is gorgeous, despite the lack of trees. Grasses and lichen stud the lower slopes while craggy peaks, some of them covered in snow even during the summer, tower above. In the distance is the König Glacier.

König Glacier

A close-up of the glacier at Fortuna Bay.

King Penguin colony

This is a photo of the King penguin colony at Fortuna Bay. It’s said there are over 7000 pairs that make this area their home.

King Penguins

Several of the King penguins strutting their stuff with our ship in the background. Access to the area is limited to one ship and a maximum of one hundred people ashore at the time. We took care to clean our boots and make sure our clothing and footwear were free of foreign seeds and anything that might harm the pristine environment.

Boot Cleaning

Boot cleaning in action. This also helped limit the “penguin pong,” but after a day ashore, we’d all leave our boots outside our doors. The passages continued to hold the penguin fragrance!

Snow Moon Dragon will release on 18 May 2021.

Sunday, April 18th, 2021
The Mysteries of Vegemite

Vegemite

I was doing a final read-through for Snow Moon Dragon, my next release, and I realized I had my characters eating toast and vegemite for breakfast. In fact, quite a few of my characters like vegemite.

Here is the excerpt:

Aware of Nyree’s impatience, he drank his coffee and ate the last mouthful of toast covered with something black called vegemite. It was salty and bore an interesting flavor, although he’d liked the peanut butter better. He stood. “Should I do the dishes?”

I grew up with Vegemite as a kid, as did many other children from New Zealand and Australia. I still eat vegemite on my toast.

So what exactly is vegemite?

Vegemite is a dark spread (blackish-brown in color) made from yeast extract leftover from beer production. It’s flavored with spices and vegetables and was developed in Melbourne, Australia, in 1922 by a chemist called Dr. Cyril Callister. Vegemite is rich in niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, and folate. It doesn’t contain sugar but does contain salt and gluten.

Most Australians and New Zealanders use vegemite as a breakfast spread. One of my favorite edible delights is toast with vegemite and avocado. Yum!

As children, my mother used to make us Mousetraps for an after-school snack. This consists of slices of bread, spread with vegemite and covered with grated cheese. These are then put under the grill and toasted until the cheese melts. Also delicious!

Vegemite is an acquired taste. It’s salty, and it’s best to add it sparingly to toast rather than liberally, something some of my American friends have learned the hard way. * grin*

If you’re interested in trying vegemite, you can order it from Amazon.

Spreading the iconic Australian spread vegemite on to a slice of fresh bread.

Shelley’s note: This is way too much vegemite for my liking. I prefer about half this amount.

Monday, February 8th, 2021
Operation Flower Petal Now Available for Pre-order

Operation Flower Petal, Military Men #6

Operation Flower Petal, book 6 in the Military Men series is now available for pre-order at all online retailers.

Read an excerpt here.

Purchase links here.

Friday, January 29th, 2021
Meet the Delphinium

Delphinium or larkspur, as they’re sometimes known in the United Kingdom is a perennial plant native to the Northern hemisphere. Their name comes from the Greek word Delphin, which means dolphin. It’s said that the flowers are the shape of a dolphin. During Tudor times in England, growers thought the flowers resembled the lark’s claw, hence the common name larkspur.

Delphinium

Over 500 varieties grow in the wild, and there are many cultivated varieties these days. Traditional delphiniums are tall, but the modern plants come in various heights and some are suitable for growing in containers.
Delphinium are popular in cottage gardens, and they are known for attracting butterflies.

Delphinium

Beautiful blue delphinium flowers, close up

Growing Delphinium:

1. They prefer a sunny, well-drained position with fertile soil.

2. A more sheltered position is best since strong wind can break stems.

3. The tall varieties should be staked since some can grow up to 2.1 meters high.

4. Don’t plant too close together because they can suffer from mildew or fungal if they don’t have good airflow between the plants.

5. Watch out for slugs and snails.

Delphinium

Most delphinium and their seeds are poisonous to both humans and animals.

Escape to the Country is one of my favorite shows, and a special interest section on this program featured delphinium flowers. A farmer had diversified by growing the flowers and turning them into confetti. This story inspired me to write Operation Flower Petal.

Delphinium
Here’s the blurb:

He falls for her…literally.

Since her husband’s murder, Ada Buckingham’s life has comprised one calamity after another, and the hits keep coming, yet each day, she picks herself up and begins again.

Military man Matt Townsend, AKA Frog, expects a challenging assignment when he agrees to train soldiers in tough country terrain. The rules: stay away from the old lady’s flowers and notify her of days or nights with flash-bang.

Easy, right?

On arrival via parachute, he plummets into the lady’s flowers. The sexy spitfire who confronts him isn’t the maiden aunt-type he imagined, but man, she intrigues and entices him, and he’s eager to learn more.

Matt is quick to insert himself into her life, and his mission evolves once he learns something is hinky and dangerous in the world of Ada. While he fell arse over teakettle, Ada is slower to believe or trust, but Matt is confident in his charm and brings his A-game. Now all he needs to do is keep her safe.

You will love this latest addition to the Military Men series because it contains a charming, confident, and audacious soldier known for his singing voice—not!—and a brave and determined heroine with a love of flowers. You’ll also find skullduggery in a country town, danger, and gossip aplenty. Sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy the romantic adventure.

Click here to learn more about Operation Flower Petal

Delphinium

Sources:
https://www.countryliving.com/uk/homes-interiors/gardens/a718/fact-file-delphiniums/
https://delphinium.co.nz/pages/history-of-delphiniums
https://tuigarden.co.nz/how-to-guide/delphinium-growing-guide/

Friday, January 29th, 2021
The History of Confetti

Wedding Confetti

It’s thought that the throwing of confetti started in Greek times when locals would shower athletes and those getting married with flowers and leaves. It was a unique way of sprinkling people with love and excitement and made for a brilliant spectacle.

But it was the Italians who we can thank most. The word confetti is of Italian origin and means small pellets made of lime or soft plaster. It is also the word for sweetmeats.

The Italians had a similar custom where the nobles threw coins, nuts, sweets, and flowers at the crowds. The confetti contributed to a festival-like atmosphere and got everyone excited. It seemed too excited since some of the masses became riled and tossed back stones, rotten eggs and vegetables, and other nasty items. Because the custom upset some and fights broke out, authorities banned confetti tossing for many years.

Paper confetti is more modern, and around 1875 a man saw an opportunity in silkworm farming. The farmers lined the worms’ home with thick paper. As the larvae hatched, they burrowed out of the paper and created small discs. One man saw possibilities, and instead of trashing the paper discs, he sold them for use at festivals and wedding celebrations. He informed people this was a safe and fun way to party.

The British used to throw uncooked rice, or sometimes wheat and barley, to signify fertility. Pelting a couple with rice was meant to bring luck and children into their lives. Having uncooked rice chucked at one can be painful, and the practice fell out of favor when paper confetti came along.

Flower Confetti

These days, many churches and towns dislike the mess of paper thrown everywhere. Clean up can take lots of time! People use flower petals as a natural alternative, which is where Ada from Operation Flower Petal comes into the picture!

Here is the blurb for Operation Flower Petal.

He falls for her…literally.

Since her husband’s murder, Ada Buckingham’s life has comprised one calamity after another, and the hits keep coming, yet each day, she picks herself up and begins again.

Military man Matt Townsend, AKA Frog, expects a challenging assignment when he agrees to train soldiers in tough country terrain. The rules: stay away from the old lady’s flowers and notify her of days or nights with flash-bang.

Easy, right?

On arrival via parachute, he plummets into the lady’s flowers. The sexy spitfire who confronts him isn’t the maiden aunt-type he imagined, but man, she intrigues and entices him, and he’s eager to learn more.

Matt is quick to insert himself into her life, and his mission evolves once he learns something is hinky and dangerous in the world of Ada. While he fell arse over teakettle, Ada is slower to believe or trust, but Matt is confident in his charm and brings his A-game. Now all he needs to do is keep her safe.

You will love this latest addition to the Military Men series because it contains a charming, confident, and audacious soldier known for his singing voice—not!—and a brave and determined heroine with a love of flowers. You’ll also find skullduggery in a country town, danger, and gossip aplenty. Sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy the romantic adventure.

Get more Operation Flower Petal Here

Sources:
https://ultimateconfetti.com/blog/the-history-of-confetti/
https://hoorayweddings.com/for-the-bridal-couple/the-history-of-confetti/
https://www.etymonline.com/word/confetti
https://www.brideandgroomdirect.co.uk/blog/2020/05/everything-you-need-to-know-about-wedding-confetti/

Monday, January 18th, 2021
Cover Reveal: Operation Flower Petal

 

Military Men #6
Release date: 25th February 2021

 

Hero: Matt Townsend – Ex NZSAS soldier and currently training soldiers.

Heroine: Adelaide Buckingham, known as Ada. Farmer and flower grower.

He falls for her… literally.

Operation Flower Petal, Military Men #6

 

The blurb:

Since her husband’s murder, Ada Buckingham’s life has comprised one calamity after another, and the hits keep coming, yet each day, she picks herself up and begins again.

Military man Matt Townsend, AKA Frog, expects a challenging assignment when he agrees to train soldiers in tough country terrain. The rules: stay away from the old lady’s flowers and notify her of days or nights with flash-bang.

Easy, right?

On arrival via parachute, he plummets into the lady’s flowers. The sexy spitfire who confronts him isn’t the maiden aunt-type he imagined, but man, she intrigues and entices him, and he’s eager to learn more.

Matt is quick to insert himself into her life, and his mission evolves once he learns something is hinky and dangerous in the world of Ada. While he fell arse over teakettle, Ada is slower to believe or trust, but Matt is confident in his charm and brings his A-game. Now all he needs to do is keep her safe.

You will love this latest addition to the Military Men series because it contains a charming, confident, and audacious soldier known for his singing voice—not!—and a brave and determined heroine with a love of flowers. You’ll also find skullduggery in a country town, danger, and gossip aplenty. Sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy the romantic adventure.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway to win a copy of the Military Men box set, which includes books 1 – 3 in the series.
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 31st, 2020
Scottish New Year Traditions

New Year Traditions

We have lots of people of English and Scottish descent in the community where we live, so I’ve been hearing a lot about first-footing and mutters of lumps of coal.

I had NO idea what they were talking about, so I decided to find out so as not to appear dim-witted.
Here are some Scottish Hogmanay traditions:

1. At midnight, most sing Robbie Burns’s poem, Auld Lang Syne.

This song refers to old or times past, which makes it the perfect song to sing at the beginning of a new year when we are looking back and also ahead to the future.

2. First-footing refers to the first person to enter the house after midnight. There are specific requirements for first-footing. The person should be a dark-haired male. He should carry with him a piece of coal, a dram of whisky, shortbread, salt, and black bun. It’s thought that this tradition relates back to the time of the Viking raids. If a blond Viking came to your door, it was more likely he was carrying an enormous sword and intended the residents’ harm, therefore it was luckier to discover a man with dark hair.

The purpose of first-footing is to bring good luck for the rest of the year.

Happy New Year to you. May 2021 bring you joy and prosperity.

Sources:
https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofScotland/The-History-of-Hogmanay/

Tuesday, December 1st, 2020
Check out the New Release Giveaway

I’m celebrating the release of Sasha, book 4 in my Dragon Isles series by taking part in the New Release Giveaway.

November New Release Giveaway

 

Welcome to the November New Release Giveaway! 11/30 – 12/07!

One-click all the latest books.

 

Find your new favorite author.

 

Then enter for a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

Enter here: https://lovekissedbookbargains.com/2020/11/27/november-new-release-giveaway-4/