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Archive for January, 2009

Country Boy or City Sophistication?

So this track was playing on my iPod while Scotty and I wandered at our old-dog pace around the reserve this morning. It made me start thinking. Possibly a bad thing, but follow along…

I’m a country girl at heart, and my husband also grew up on a farm. The farming background gives us a lot in common. But I’ve also lived in towns and cities and met city boys. Their idea of dates are different for a start. A country man might take you to a rodeo, to an agricultural show or stock sales. Dinner out might be at the local pub and jeans are fine. In the city, dates are to nightclubs, nice restaurants or maybe a walk in a park. There are art galleries and museums and sexy dresses. Spiky heels that áre in no danger of sinking halfway to China when you walk beside your man. Try that in the country and see what happens!

In most of my writing, and especially in my Middlemarch series, the heroes are all country boys. Strong, capable farmers who don’t need to work out in a gym. An exception to this rule would be PLAYING TO WIN where my hero is a professional rugby player and businessman. He does a lot of promotion and charity work and is at home wearing a suit. While my Middlemarch men could do the suit thing, they’re more at home in the wide open spaces.

I like to read about both types of heroes, but I have a real soft spot for a cowboy, country male type. I like them because they’re independent, capable, usually emotionally strong and can turn their hand to anything. They’re not generally full of themselves. Maybe they’re not quite as good at romance, but we know the right woman can smooth the rough edges.

What do you think about real life – country man or a city man and why? And in fiction – which do you choose? Is your answer different and why?

This year Harlequin is celebrating sixty years of romance. They’re giving away free downloads of sixteen titles that represent most of their lines. If you haven’t checked out their free offer yet, run straight over and download the titles that grab your interest. I’ve already downloaded my share.
Here’s the link.

Brush Those Teeth.

Thursday Thirteen

I wasn’t looking forward to today because I had both dentist and doctor appointments. I loathe all that poking and prodding. Not nice! Anyhow, I survived the experience and decided to do my TT on dentist related things.

Thirteen Things About Dentists and Teeth

1. French dentists were the first Europeans to promote the use of toothbrushes in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.

2. Hard to believe, but most Americans did not brush their teeth until Army soldiers brought their enforced habits of tooth brushing back home after World War II.

3. Toothpaste was used as long ago as 500 BC in both China and India; however, modern toothpastes were developed in the 1800s.

4. Cavities are holes in our teeth created by the wear, tear, and decay of tooth enamel.

5. False teeth date back as far as 700 BC. The Etruscans designed false teeth out of ivory and bone that were secured into the mouth by gold bridgework.

6. In the days when dentures weren’t invented yet, dentists would implant teeth in the mouth of a person. The teeth came from dead people!

7. In the 1800s, all kinds of teeth bleaching agents were used with varied results. In the 1900s, dentists paired hydrogen peroxide with a bleaching light to whiten teeth, but several treatments were needed to see results. Two dentists, Dr. Haywood and Dr. Heymann, came up with the idea of using carbamide peroxide as a whitening agent — and at-home bleaching trays were invented.

8. Roughly 8,000 years before Novocaine and some 7,300 years before they could even swig whiskey to dull the pain, prehistoric patients were having holes drilled into their teeth with drill bits carved from stone. The researchers think the dental work may have been done to ease pain, since four of the teeth showed signs of decay and the jaw of at least one individual showed signs of massive infection.

9. During the Battle of Waterloo people who scavenged from the dead on the battlefields carried a sturdy pair of pliers. These individuals weren’t only on the lookout for the more traditional items, such as money and jewellery, but for a rather more unlikely prize as well…human teeth.

10. Keeping those toothy pearls pretty and in place is a booming multibillion-dollar industry. There are about 3,000 patented toothbrushes on the market, with handles that look like running shoes and heads like precious power tools; and some that squirt, and others on timers, and some that ”deplaque” with sonic whiners.

11. Dentures reduce chewing power about 20 percent, depriving their owners of many foods that may be healthy like apples, corn on the cob and tree bark.

12. 1910—The first formal training program for dental nurses is established at the Ohio College of Dental Surgery by Cyrus M. Wright. The program is discontinued in 1914 mainly due to opposition by Ohio dentists.

13. A No Frills Dentist Appointment

The Smiths were shown into the dentist’s office, where Mr. Smith made it clear he was in a big hurry.

“No fancy stuff, Doctor,” he ordered, “No gas or needles or any of that stuff. Just pull the tooth and get it over with.”

“I wish more of my patients were as stoic as you,” said the dentist admiringly. “Now, which tooth is it?”

Mr. Smith turned to his wife Sue. “Show him, honey.”

I’ll admit my favorite part of a dentist appointment is the end when I’m safely out the door and done for another year. Do you enjoy visiting the dentist? Do you have many fillings? They say that all our toothpastes, floridated water etc has made our teeth better, so an unscientific survey–do your kids have many fillings compared to you at the same age?

Penises in Paranormals

Okay. I’m totally borrowing/stealing this topic from Nicola O.

Nicola mentions in her post that penises in some paranormals are different from the norm. I’ve run across this phenomenon before. Most notable are Lora Leigh’s Breed books where barbs and knots appear during the sexual act, locking the hero and heroine together for long minutes. I remember reading this for the first time and thinking, well. That’s interesting. I’m glad it’s not me. Since this happens in nature I can accept it in a book, but it does make me squirm and not in a good way.

I remember reading ebooks written by Brenna Lyons (Kegin series) where a similar thing occured. In Brenna’s books, the heroines were a little astonished. Yep, that would be me as well.

I’ve also read a couple of sci-fi romances where the hero has two penises. For the life of me I can’t think of the title or author, but I remember that I had to read the paragraph twice. It could have been an EC book. The title will come to me, if I think about it for long enough.

Recently I’ve been reading some of Shannon McKenna’s romantic suspenses. I really enjoy Shannon’s books, but I’ve noticed that her heroes are all very well endowed and that they’re good with foreplay. They have to be because of their size. She also mentions the term “girl juice” several times, which just cracks me up.

In a more recent post Nicola also mentioned that her blog stats went crazy after her paranormal penises post, so I just had to experiment you understand and try my own penis post.

Now in my own writing I keep the size vague. I don’t go into great detail about length but I might mention appearance. My feline shapeshifters don’t have this mysterious barb, although the more I think about it, the more I want to introduce one. :grin: Watch this space.

Writers – I know most of my writer visitors write erotic romance so what do you do with the size and appearance thing?
Readers – what is your opinion of the barbs and knots and extra dangly bits? Do they make you go eek or do they just make you giggle? Do you skip those paragraphs?

Ladies, A Plate

Growing up in the New Zealand countryside you wouldn’t think we’d socialize much, but as a child I remember going to fetes, socials and parties on a regular basis. The invitations always came along with the instructions for the ladies to bring a plate. I remember thinking this was a silly thing to ask for. I mean, wouldn’t they be better asking for food?

My mother explained to me that “ladies, a plate” was an expression and our hosts expected us to take a plate with food sitting on it, not an empty plate. She said I shouldn’t worry. There would definitely be food where we were going. That was a big relief because I like food, and unfortunately, I haven’t grown out of my liking for sweet treats!

I thought about this expression recently because there’s a new cookbook out in our local bookstores called Ladies, A Plate. It’s by Alexa Johnston and contains recipes for cakes and biscuits I remember eating in my childhood–-recipes such as Kiwi Crisps, Anzac biscuits, Afghans, Pikelets, Neenish Tarts, Butterfly Cakes, Custard Squares and Cinnamon Oysters.

Many of the recipes were developed in New Zealand and a few borrowed from Australia. In fact there’s a good-natured rivalry between the two countries when it comes to deciding which of the two countries invented some recipes.

These days baking seems to be a dying art. My mother taught my brother, sister and I how to cook and at the weekends, we’d all choose something to bake, filling the cake tins for the following week.

Do you have the expression ladies, a plate where you live? Do you have childhood memories of baking or special sweet treats? What were/are your favorites?

Engagements: Long or short?

I have a quick question for you today, brought on by a family drama. I’m feeling all “Carrie Bradshaw” as I type this:

Do you favor long or short engagements?
How long is it before an engagement becomes simply living together?
And as for a party celebrating the event – do you think an engagement party should be held shortly after the announcement or is a large time lapse okay?

My own experience is this: Hubby and I had a short engagement of just under five months, and to be honest, if I remember it all in my next life, I’m going to elope. I found the entire experience very stressful because of all the family baggage I had to juggle. Yep, if I had the time over I wouldn’t bother with the hoopla and would head straight for the honeymoon.

What was your experience?

New Zealand: Tongariro National Park

I thought I’d post a few photos of my recent trip to Tongariro National Park. It’s a beautiful spot in both summer and winter.

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This is a shot of me and the Overlander trainer at National Park township. It’s a very small place!

Formed in 1887, Tongariro National Park was the second National Park in the world after Yellowstone in USA. It’s a volcanic area with three volcanoes, which are visible for miles. Mt Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro are all active with the most recent activity taking place on Ruapehu. A lahar raced down the mountainside last year when the ice and mud surrounding the crater lake at the top gave way, spewing out mud, water and rocks. Luckily, there are warning systems in place and they worked to plan with no injuries or unexpected surprises.

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This is a shot of Mt Ngauruhoe, taken from our hotel, The Chateau.

During the winter months skiers flock to the park and there was still a little snow on the mountain tops, despite the fact we’d arrived on one of the hottest days of the year to date. It was so hot the road was melting.

We stayed in Whakapapa Village at The Chateau, a hotel at the base of Mt Ruapehu that has been a holiday destination since 1929. The Chateau is a grand old building that looks like a classic mansion, and apart from the added wing, I imagine it looks much the same as it did when it was first constructed. We sat in the lounge and gazed out over the tussock lands to view Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe. Mt Ngauruhoe is a perfect cone. During our visit, it appeared silent but I have seen it with plumes of smoke pouring out the top.

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This is a shot of The Chateau with Mt Ruapehu in the rear of the photo.

When I was twelve, we had a week long school trip and stayed at a motel up the road from The Chateau. During our visit, my friends and I sneaked into The Chateau and had a fine time playing in the elevators until unappreciative management kicked us out. Hey, we were country kids who didn’t see many elevators. Anyway, I made a point of using the elevators during our visit and took a perverse pleasure in it!

On our second day, we drove up Mt Ruapehu to The Top of the Bruce where the road ends. It was a gorgeous sunny day and perfect to ride the chairlifts. Once we ran out of chairlifts, it was time to use our feet. We walked until we reached the snowline. Thank goodness for sunglasses because it was very glary! After playing in the snow for a while, we retired to the café for a well-earned drink before walking the six kilometers back to the hotel. One thing I noticed was the bird song. I heard the native tui singing its guttural song and beautiful bellbird song. We took time to study the plants and admire the sweeping views across the tussock lands before heading back to the hotel for a long soak in the spa bath. I’ll admit I felt my muscles the next day, but the fresh air and fun we had was a good exchange for the pain of seldom used muscles.

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This is a shot of me on Mt Ruapehu. As you can see there was a bit of snow around.

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Here’s a shot of the mountain daisy we saw when we were walking down the mountain to the hotel.

The next day we caught the train back to Auckland, arriving home relaxed and refreshed.

Romance on the Web.

Today I have a selection of interesting tidbits for you from the world wide web.

The first is at Romancing the Blog and it’s about books and censorship. This post shocked me. I dislike censorship of any sort and feel that adults should have freedom of choice. I can borrow erotic romances at my local library. They’re labeled with large stickers that state the book contains explicit content. It’s my choice to check out a book with spicy content. I presume this also alerts the librarian if a minor tries to check one out. That’s all the oldies need on their library books – a sticker stating the book contains salty language or explicit content. They can then choose to read a particular book or leave it on the shelf.

Emily at EREC has a post about Everything Old. It’s about the universal problems faced by authors. They’re ageless problems!

I’m blogging over at The Samhellion about Sleeping with the Fishes and routine. I forgot to mention it yesterday. Oops!

Sign up to receive a free copy of Night Hawk, a short story by Lora Leigh.

Download a free copy of Roxanne St. Claire’s Bullet Catcher novella.

And of course, if you haven’t checked out my free reads, go there straight away!

Do you have any interesting posts to share?

Shoo Fly! Shoo!

Thursday Thirteen

It’s mid-summer here in New Zealand, and everyone is complaining about the flies this year. They seem to be worse than normal. My husband takes the appearance of a fly as a personal affront because he works in pest control. Normally our house is a bug-free zone but the flies are leading him a merry dance and presenting a challenge!

1. Musca domestica Linnaeus, the common house fly is a well-known pest and is found where there are humans. They transport disease causing organisms.

2. This common fly originated on the steppes of central Asia, but now occurs on all inhabited continents, in all climates from tropical to temperate, and in a variety of environments ranging from rural to urban. It is commonly associated with animal feces, but has adapted well to feeding on garbage.

3. It has a distinct egg, larva or maggot, pupal and adult stage. During the winter months it lives in the pupal stage under manure piles or other protected areas.

4. Each female fly can lay up to 500 eggs in several batches of 75 to 150 eggs over a three to four day period.

5. Adults usually live 15 to 25 days, but may live up to two months.

6. Without food, they survive around two to three days. Longevity is enhanced by the availability of suitable food, especially sugar. They live longer at cooler temperatures.

7. They require food before they will copulate, and copulation is completed in as few as two minutes or as long as 15 minutes.

8. Flies are inactive at night, with ceilings, beams and overhead wires within buildings, trees, and shrubs, various kinds of outdoor wires, and grasses used for overnight resting sites.

9. The more commonly used control measures for house flies are sanitation, use of traps, and insecticides.

10. Sanitation is the most effective and important step in controlling house flies. Dry and wrap organic waste before placing it in the garbage can. Seal garbage cans with tight fitting lids. Screen windows and doors to keep pests out.

11. Commercial pest control companies spray for flies, but the flies only die if they settle on the sprayed surfaces. Surfaces should not be wiped, so if a vigorous cleaning program is in force, spraying defeats the purpose.

12. There are many herbs and spices that can be used as home remedies, and that work to repel flies from the home.

Growing basil in flower pots or placing fresh-cut basil in vases and places where it is needed, will work as a natural repellant and flies will be apt to invade the home. Eucalyptus leaves can be burned outside, and used to repel flies as well as mosquitoes. Growing certain plants around the periphery of the home can make barriers. The plants will look nice while deterring nasty flies from entering the home, and even the yard. For flies, mint and basil should be grown to repel them, and keep them from entering the human household. These plants may smell nice to humans, but they are absolutely disgusting to house flies.

13. When I was a kid my grandparents used to own a fly swat. We used to argue about who would have the honor of weilding the fly swat. Great fun!

Do you have a favorite method of getting rid of flies?

Try a Free Read Today

Recently I’ve added some free reads to my website in the hope of attracting new readers. I’ve been surprised by how many extra visitors these free stories have brought to my site already because I haven’t advertised them yet.

My free reads are available here: Interplanetary Love and Live the Moment

I thought I’d do a little promotion on behalf of my fellow writers at Romance Divas since many of them also have free stories available on their websites. The genres and sensuality levels differ so check these first before you download the stories.

Here are some free reads from Romance Diva authors, in no particular order:

James Buchanan
Debbie Mumford
Diana Castilleja
Jennifer Colgan
L.K. Campbell
Midnight Moon Cafe – on the righthand sidebar.
Kelly Jamieson – has an ongoing serial on her blog.
Sela Carsen
Leah Braemel – on the sidebar.
Jennifer McKenzie
The Samhellion – free reads from some of Samhain Publishing authors.

Enjoy!

Politically Incorrect

Political correctness (commonly abbreviated to PC) is a term applied to language, ideas, policies, or behavior where people seek to minimize offense to gender, racial, cultural, disabled, aged or other identity groups.

Two members of the British Royal family have been in trouble recently because they’ve used words some members of the public think are out of place. Prince Harry used the word “Paki” when talking about a fellow cadet from Pakistan, and His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales called one of his friends, “Sooty”. The man he called Sooty is of Indian descent and has been known by this name for years. Here’s a link to the story.

Prince Harry apologized for his remarks, which were recorded in a private video three years ago, while the Prince of Wales’ friend Sooty has said he wasn’t offended by the long-standing nickname.

Here’s another link to a series of print ads from the past. Most of them are not very kind to women. They actually made me chuckle when I saw them, although I’m not sure I would have approved if I had been around at the time.

In New Zealand I’ve heard of children being taught alternative words to old and popular songs because the original songs are deemed inappropriate. e.g. Baa Baa Black sheep being changed to Rainbow sheep. Here’s a link to a story about the song at an English nursery.

Sometimes I just shake my head because I believe we try too hard to be politically correct. Sometimes we are too sensitive to words or ideas and forget to have a sense of humor. It must be a nightmare for people in the public eye, eg. the Royal family or political figures who have to walk the tightrope of correctness all the time. I’m not saying we should go around and use racial slurs or the like, just that we should use a bit more commonsense when it comes to political correctness.

What do you think? Do we go too far sometimes? Ladies, what did you think of the print ads?