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Archive for June, 2010

Kiwi Fruit: It’s More Than a Pavlova Topping

Thursday Thirteen

I watched a documentary about kiwi fruit this week and immediately thought it would make a great topic for a Thursday Thirteen.

Thirteen Things About Kiwi fruit.

Kiwi Fruit

1. The Kiwi fruit originally came from China and was named the Chinese Gooseberry.

2. It was grown successfully in New Zealand and was renamed the Kiwi Fruit when New Zealand started to export the fruit to America. A New Zealand export couldn’t be called Chinese!

3. The Kiwi fruit got its name from New Zealand’s national bird, the kiwi. The fuzzy-looking fruit looks a little like the kiwi. I’ve always thought you need a good imagination to see the similarities.

4. It’s a powerhouse of nutrition and full of vitamins and minerals.

5. Kiwi fruit contain more vitamin C than oranges.

6. Kiwi fruit can help improve your immune system, helping you to ward off the affects of stress.

7. Kiwi fruit are good to remove that bloated and blocked sensation. :grin:

8. It’s okay to eat the skin, which contains high levels of flavonoids, insoluble fiber and antioxidants, although I don’t know why anyone would eat it.

9. Kiwi fruit is good for tenderizing meat because it contains an enzyme called Actinidin.

10. Kiwifruit is a member of the botanical family Actinidia and there are 400 different varieties.

11. The flavor is a mixture of peaches, strawberries, and melon with a soft and juicy texture.

12. Kiwi fruit grows on a vine, which can be as high as 15 feet.

13. Kiwi fruit require full sun for growing and thrive in richly composted, deeply dug and well watered soils. They have male and female plants Ideally, male and female plants are planted together about 1meter apart on sturdy frames or arches or wire rows. Kiwi plants require light pruning and protection from frost.

Extra: Down this end of the world they’re an extremely popular garnish for a pavlova.

Do you like kiwi fruit?


Easy Chocolate Mousse: Little Pots of Yummy Goodness


My husband made these little chocolate mousses last weekend. They were quick and easy to make and delicious! Here’s the recipe:

75 g dark chocolate, chopped and melted. (Use ordinary chocolate rather than chocolate with high cocoa content) (2.5 oz)
2 eggs, separated
25 g butter, melted (1/5 of a stick of butter)
2 Tablespoons caster sugar
1 Tablespoon Tia Maria (optional) We used Kahlua since that’s all we had in the pantry.

Mix the melted chocolate with the egg yolks and butter. Whisk the egg whites and then whisk in the sugar until the mixture is shiny and stiff. Fold the two mixtures together and add the Tia Maria. Divide into four glasses and chill until set. We used espresso cups and garnished the mousse with toasted slivers of almonds. They took 15 minutes to prepare.

Source: Taste Magazine – June 2010

Setting the Stage: World Building in Sci-Fi Romance

My special guest today is friend and fellow sci-fi fan, Kaye Manro. Forbidden Love is Kaye’s debut book, and it’s doing really well. If you’ve been following Kaye’s Forbidden Love tour, you’ll know she’s discussed some really interesting topics. This is her last tour stop, and she’s talking about world building. Over to Kaye…

Forbidden Love by Kaye ManroThank you for inviting me to be your guest today, Shelley!

World building is such an interesting subject, and I’d like to talk about just how I created my science fiction environment in my short erotic SFR Forbidden Love.

While world building is important in all genres of fiction, it is doubly true for science fiction. The process involves detailed back-story that may never end up on the written page!
In science fiction, as well as science fiction romance, (SFR) authors tend to spend a lot of time on world building. In the created worlds especially those involving space travel the process usually starts with designing the star and solar system in which the planet resides.
Here’s an example from my own world building experience. When I created the premise for the Forbidden series (book one is Forbidden Love, which recently released at Red Rose Publishing) I wanted an astounding species with touches of reptilian DNA. For that, I needed the proper environment for them to exist. Their planet needed to be atmospherically disruptive and wild, a little like Venus but able to sustain life. While in opposition, I wanted the species to be an ancient and peaceful but advanced culture, capable of traveling across galaxies by way of hyper-jumps through invented event horizons.

I had a vague idea of what I should call this world, and those red-orange colors kept popping into my mind. I created the name for the planet by combining words like orange and ascorbic because it reminded me of vitality and virility. I melded the two words and Asconage was born.

As I pondered, what Asconage might be like, visions of its solar system came to mind. Asconage is a desert-like world, and I needed to create an extremely arid environment. This planet, painted in russet, ginger, and mauve with an indigo-purple and hued red nighttime sky, orbits two suns, one near and one far. The binary system makes intense heat possible without causing a total planetary meltdown. This is the main reason why T’Kon’s species developed along the evolutionary path it did. I hope this gives you an idea of how everything ties together.

I wanted T’Kon’s race, though extremely technologically and physically advanced, to have archaic beliefs and laws governing the people that preserve the purity of their species. In Forbidden Love, that’s exactly why T’Kon has a hard time coping with his attraction to Maya, the heroine. She is from a human species on an Earth-like world known as Terrain. T’Kon is an explorer and scans Maya’s world for possible contact when his spacecraft crashes into the Terrain surface.

Truly, Forbidden Love came alive only after I had spent time developing the foundation for which I based this story and that is world building. Here is how the story actually unfolded–

Forbidden Love is a futuristic sci-fi erotic romance. Yes, there is space travel at FTL (faster than light). But there is also lots of sexy sensual exploring between the hero T’Kon and the heroine Maya, who hail from different galaxies and evolutionary paths. Rules on T’Kon’s planet forbid interspecies mating. But when he crashes his spacecraft on Maya’s world close to her desert home, what else is he to do but let this lovely alien tend his, umm, injuries?

Here is a little taste of Forbidden Love:

Something cool and clammy grazed her arm, causing a shiver. He sat on the edge of her exam table, his face no longer tinged with the pale blueness she observed earlier; rather, a deep russet color washed him.

Maya stared at the alien awake and alive, his lean muscles tensing as he stretched. Slanted sliver blue-flecked eyes peered at her holding a puzzled look, a haunting icy glare.

“I—I’m Dr. Maya Belle,” she cleared her throat. “I found you hurt in the desert near here so I brought you to my lab—my home.” She squinted and sucked in a mouthful of air. “Who are you? It’s a foregone conclusion you’re not from this world. Where do you come from?” She tilted her head. “Do you understand me?”

Suddenly his thoughts tumbled into hers.

“I am on a peaceful mission. My cloaked spacecraft malfunctioned and crashed into your planet’s surface. You do know where it is.” She sensed his uneasy pause and then, “You will take me there.” It sounded too much like a commanded to her.

Yeah right, she thought and immediately tried to recant the notion. But it was too late. His icy gaze narrowed on her. Clawed fingers grasped a firm hold around her wrist. He emphasized one word. “Now.”

Bio for Kaye

As a romance author, I lean toward the adventuresome in my writing. I love science fiction and all the enticing quantum theories surrounding it. Where characters rush through outer space at Faster than Light speed, or teleport into another time, and even slipstream into an alternate reality. I like creating love scenes too with strong heroes, and captivating heroines. It just seemed natural to combine all these elements together in my stories and write (SFR) Science Fiction Romance.

Forbidden Love Buy Page ~ Kaye’s Website ~ Kaye’s Blog ~

The Big Cheese

Thursday Thirteen

Last week my topic for Thursday Thirteen was wine. Since wine and cheese go so nicely together it, therefore, makes sense for me to talk about cheese this week.

Thirteen Types of Cheese

1. Cheddar
2. Cream cheese
3. Cottage cheese
4. Stilton
5. Camembert
6. Brie
7. Gorgonzola
8. Ricotta
9. Parmesan
10. Mozzarella
11. Cheshire
12. Gruyere
13. Wensleydale (Wallace & Gromit’s favorite)

Cheese is one thing I really enjoy eating, and there aren’t many types I don’t like. Give me a cheese and pickle sandwich, and I’m a happy camper.

Do you like cheese? What is your favorite type? What is your favorite way to eat cheese?

A Visit To New Zealand, Land of the Long White Cloud

Have you ever wanted to travel to New Zealand?

I’m lucky enough to live in New Zealand, and today I give you a virtual tour of my beautiful country. I’m visiting Lisabet Sarai at Beyond Romance today where I discuss New Zealand and books.

Is Your Well Full? Author, Jane Beckenham Tells Us To Smell the Roses!

I’m delighted to welcome fellow New Zealander and Samhain Publishing author, Jane Beckenham today. Jane is currently burning up the top ten sales list with her latest release, He’s The One, and I couldn’t be more pleased for her! Today she’s talking about something that I endorse wholeheartedly – filling the well. Is your well full? Over to Jane…

He's The One by Jane BeckenhamAn interesting thing occurred a month or so ago. I stopped writing. I wanted desperately to start a new book, I was seriously over edits and line edits and galleys, and the never ending promotion, but instead of starting a new book –like most writers I have a file of story ideas I reached for those.

Sad to say, they just didn’t spark.

Instead I developed a love of cleaning windows. Pathetic, but there really is a lot to be gained by looking out of windows that are no longer marred by months of dirt and grime.

Two weeks and I was over window cleaning so I tried again and got out that list of ideas.

Nope. Not one word on the page.

Scary stuff.

I mean I’ve been writing solidly for 11 years, have 12 books under contract, and several more written, (not counting the duds when I first started). What was wrong?

Was my writing life over? Come back Ms. Muse, all is forgiven.

The darn girl stayed away and my fear exacerbated.

Then I got a rejection, and that kinda put the proverbial nail in the coffin.

Rejection does that…for a bit, but I wailed to my writing buddies “What is wrong? I can’t write? I’m no good.” It was definitely all woe is me.

Then someone asked me a question that stopped me in my tracks.

“Jane, what do you do to fill up the well?”

“What well?”

“The one that sustains you as a writer, that gives you the ‘juice’ to carry on.”

Was there one? I didn’t have a clue.

“Don’t you ever stop?”


“Oh…, that’s the reason then.”

“It is?”

“Sure. You need to stop, fill up the well. You see your body is like a car. It needs gasoline to keep going.

What are you doing to refill the tank, what’s your sustenance?”

“Too much chocolate,” I replied. But what my good intended writer friend meant was what was my sustenance for my soul, for the inner being of me the writer.

This was quite a new concept for Madam Writer. “I’m a wife, mother, homemaker, worker, and writer. I don’t have time to stop or ‘juice’ up.”

“And that’s why the tank is empty, ma’am, why the well is dry and you aint getting one word on the page these days.”


These words of wisdom got me thinking. Could there be something in this. Does a person need to actually stop?

So I asked bunch of writers, all wonderfully successful women who I so much admire for their ability and value for their friendship.

Here’s how they refill their well.

Pat Snellgrove – Taking me time, reading, and spending time with the family.

Clare Scott – Just taking time to breathe is good, or reading a really bad book in your genre because it makes you angry so you think ‘I CAN do better than this!’ Having a complete (brief) break so you are not compelled by having to write rather by needing to write. Of course, deadlines are really good incentives too ;-) That reminds me too – I have a snippets book in which I paste articles, headlines, piccies from mags or newspapers, and also story comments, that have made me stop and think, or laugh, or have started a storyline germinating. If really stuck I just have a read thru and it’s amazing what thoughts and schemes this triggers.

(Jane here… I love this idea of pasting articles etc…might just pinch it!)

Jean Adams – I go for a walk on a beach, or do a little gardening. Getting out in the fresh air usually helps.

(Jane… Gardening… Jean, come on over, I have weeds that are giving Jack’s beanstalk a run for his money!)

Yvonne Walus – Filling the well depends, to a degree, on what’s currently missing in my life. Sometimes I need an hour listening to 80s music, or a walk on a deserted windy beach, or an evening with friends. Sometimes I need to reconnect with people, hear about their dreams and challenges in order to get inspired about mine. Sometimes I need a “worthy cause” to write about, you know, a theme like “being a mother is more important than being a successful CEO” or “a wise husband makes his wife feel she’s the only women in the world”. And sometimes – most of the time – I just need a good night’s sleep!!!!

Wonderful M&B Historical writer, Sophia James… For me the writing well is filled by exercise. I walk each day for an hour or so and just feel enervated again. With such a sedentary job I think it’s so good to get up and move and feel the air on your face, see the world outside your computer, and shake of all the problems of your hero and heroine. A cup of coffee with a friend comes in a close second!

(Jane… love those coffee moments with you too Sophia!)

Author Nicole Bishop who I’ve known right from my very first Romance Writers of New Zealand Conference… Refilling the well to me is going for a quiet walk, singing, or pottering around at home with no set plans (I’d like to do more of this!)

(Jane…Singing from me… .nope more like warbling)

Rachel Bailey – Reading books by my favourite authors. Watching good movies. Doing things that make my heart sing, like walks on the beach, playing dog-tennis with my dogs, something romantic with dh, stopping to smell the roses.

(Jane…Ah… now I’m getting somewhere. Reading… it figures, writers love to read…Note to self…I MUST read more)

Melissa James – Research is my strongest well-filler, Jane. I read something and get excited – Dark Waltz, for example, is from reading a history text about Napoleon’s secret fleet to invade England. Her Galahad was from a university reader about Aboriginal people being declared dead illegally. A Mother in a Million came from watching a show called Missing, about how missing persons affects those left behind. The Nighthawks series came from research on how espionage works. I’ve applied that, and my history texts on 1800s espionage and a book called “The Man Who Broke Napoleon’s Code” to get authenticity. It’s when it’s a subject I can’t research that I get in trouble. I lose enthusiasm, write automatically. Walks, movies, chatting to writer friends.

(Jane…research….ah that sparks something deep inside this writer who would have loved to be a history teacher…Note to self- find a book to read that is research!)

Okay, so it seems to me that I have a lesson to learn here. Stop. Smell the roses. Maybe garden a tad, have coffee, read a book or two, but perhaps I’ll pass on the singing, don’t want to frighten the dog!
Now, think I’ll go and put on the kettle for a cuppa. But seriously, I’ve learned my lesson. Go back and enjoy books, because isn’t that why we became writers in the first place.

Happy reading everyone.
Jane Beckenham

Bio: In books Author Jane Beckenham discovered dreams and hope, stories that inspired in her a love of romance and happy ever after. Years later, after a blind date, Jane found her own true love and married him eleven months later.

Life has been a series of ‘dreams’ for Jane. Dreaming of learning to walk again after spending years in hospital. Dreaming of raising a family and subsequently flying to Russia to bring home her two adopted daughters. And of course, dreaming of writing. Writing has become Jane’s addiction – and it sure beats housework.

You can contact Jane via her web site www.janebeckenham.com or email her at neiljane@ihug.co.nz

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