Adventure into Romance with Shelley Munro
News About Shelley Blog Books Extras Contact Small Font Large Font

Archive for July, 2012

The Mystery of the Mesclun Salad

Mr. Munro planted a tub of Mesclun salad not long ago. The tub sat outside our kitchen in a nice sunny spot. I even remembered to water it each day, and we’d started harvesting the leaves, eating them for dinner.

Then I arrived home to find this…

Squashed Mesclun Salad

Flat Mesclun salad!

At first I thought it needed water, but water didn’t help. I’d come back from a day out to find the leaves looking sick and limp.

Something clicked and suspicion started to bloom.

Bella, the puppy suspect!

This was my main suspect – Bella, the puppy.

Then on Saturday, I caught the suspect in the act. The first sun of the day shines on the tub of mesclun salad, and Bella was using the plants as a comfortable bed. I let out a shout, unfortunately before I snapped a photo to prove the crime, and she jumped off.

Oh, yes. She pleaded guilty. Her low, tucked tail wag was an indication of complete guilt.

Another crime solved by Shelley Munro.

Adventures in the Coffice

Coffee and Cake - dreamstimefree_216999

During the last few months I’ve been attempting to complete three different manuscripts. When I’m at home it’s easy to become distracted. Too easy! There’s all the housework, the Internet, my email, the puppy wanting to play and the phone, just to mention a few things likely to derail my writing day.

Since I know myself well, whenever I can, I leave the house and work in one of my favorite cafes. I’ve posted about the benefits of a coffice before (coffee shop/office), and for me writing in a cafe really works. For instance, I’ve completed the first draft of a 50K manuscript this month, writing the final words today.

But there is an interesting by-product to working in a cafe. I meet some entertaining people.

Most people are attracted by Rufus, my pink netbook. They stop to chat about the cute pink computer and want to know what it does and where they can get one.

At one particular cafe, a group of retired men and women meet after doing a twice-weekly walk. Usually, I get there before them and gradually become surrounded by their group who range in age from early 60s to 80s. They’ve started chatting to me and discovered I was a writer. I received the normal questions about research, along with a few smirks. I told one man that writers who write about murder don’t go around killing people therefore it wasn’t logical to assume I participated in all the kinky stuff he was smirking about. I heard him repeating my words verbatim to two elderly women about two weeks later. The lecture must have sunk in.

One of the elderly ladies in the group wanted to know if I’d speak at her book club. I asked what sort of books they read. “Oh, we’re very relaxed,” she said, waving an airy hand. “Each month we have a theme. This month our theme is color.”

“That’s a good idea,” I said.

“Yes, I’m reading 50 Shades of Grey,” she said. “The first bit was all right, but I’m not sure about all this bondage stuff and tying people up. How am I going to explain that to my book club?”

Yesterday, I was in my cafe around eight in the morning and was busy tapping out my words.

“Excuse me,” the man beside me said. “I’m sorry to bother you, but could you tell me a word to describe addiction.”

I must have looked a bit blank because he said, “This is my sentence.” And he read a sentence about how his gambling had overtaken him, causing him lots of problems.

“Oh,” I said, and I gave him a suggestion.

Wondering just what he was scribbling about in his notebook, I went back to my writing.

“Excuse me,” he said. “Could you spell…” He proceeded to ask me how to spell about half a dozen different words.  “Thank you,” he said politely once I’d finished.

I went back to my words.

“Excuse me,” he said.

I was starting to get the drift of what he was writing, and I was a bit nervous about what was coming next.

“I need a closing paragraph to read out to the judge. I’ve been very stupid,” he said. “I’ve done some bad things, and if this letter doesn’t work, I’ll have to go to jail.”

“Oh,” I said. “Okay, how about something like this? Your honor, I am truly sorry for my actions and have learned the error of my ways. I want to be a role model for my children. I’ve worked hard, gone to rehab and done everything required of me to turn my life around.”

He nodded, scribbled my suggestion down, adding a few words of his own. After a few minutes, he said, “Excuse me.”

I smiled politely and wondered what was coming next.

“Thank you for your help. I’m going home to shower and change now.”

“Okay, good luck,” I said.

He nodded and left. I watched him get in his car and drive away before going back to my words.

Life is never boring at the coffice!

Review: Hollywood Ever After

Hollywood Ever AfterHollywood Ever After

By Sasha Summers

Inkspell Publishing

Release Date July 14, 2012

She wasn’t meant for movie stars, Hollywood, or happy endings. And then she met him.

Blurb:

Happy Endings are for fairy tales. Or the movies. Not for real life. At least, not Claire’s life. Even though she’s starting over, she knows better than to want too much this time. But when she falls, literally, into the strong arms of Hollywood’s ‘it’ boy Josh Wiley, Claire’s in for some surprises.

Her plans for rest and relaxation are forgotten as one incredible night with Josh becomes two…

And her heart begins to want him as much as her body. Will two kids, one bastard ex-husband, and Josh’s juggernaut career mean the end of their affair?

Or can Claire find her happy ending after all?

InkSpell Publishing Link:

http://www.inkspellpublishing.com/store.html

 

REVIEW:

Hollywood Ever After is a first person contemporary romance featuring an older woman/younger man scenario and is set mainly in Los Angeles and for a few chapters in London.

Claire has come out of an abusive marriage and is starting to get her life together after her divorce. She travels to Hollywood to spend a few days with her friend, Shannon who works in the movie industry. Shannon treats Claire to some new clothes to wear to the premiere of a movie and this is where she meets Josh, an English actor who is the newest sensation in the film world.

At first Claire can’t believe Josh is interested in her, but he gradually talks her around and shows her with both actions and words that it’s Claire he wants. Even after she returns to her normal life with her kids he continues to pursue her.

The ongoing conflict in this story comes from Claire’s ex-husband and Josh’s burgeoning fame as an actor plus Claire’s recovery from her husband’s abuse. This story is Claire’s journey from abused wife to independent woman.

I loved this story from page one and read it in a couple of days. Although Hollywood Ever After deals with some weighty issues, it was very much a feel good story and had me cheering for the hero and heroine. I enjoyed the main characters and the way their relationship developed during the course of the story. The slight suspense element added to the story, although it was easy to guess what would happen in this respect.

If you’re a fan of contemporary romances, I think you’ll like this one. I’ll be looking for more from this author.

This book was received from Bewitching Book Tours and the author in exchange for an honest review.

13 Green Household Cleaning Tips

Thursday Thirteen

I’m a big fan of using natural items for cleaning around the house and will use vinegar, baking soda, lemon and salt over manufactured items. Not only is it better for the environment, but it works out much cheaper too.

Thirteen Green Household Cleaning Tips

Lemon - dreamstimefree_117467  Salt - dreamstimefree_232233

1. Clean the base of an iron with a paste of white vinegar and baking soda. The paste will make the sole plate clean and shiny.

2. To get rid of perspiration marks and associated odour on shirts – soak in white vinegar and then wash in the normal method.

3. Kill weeds or unwanted grass by spraying vinegar directly onto the trouble spot.

4. Use baking soda to clean the inside of the fridge. It will clean up greasy marks and remove any odours.

5. Clean a rubbish bin with bicarb of soda and warm water. This will help eliminate smells.

6. Clean both the toilet seat and bowl with baking soda. Sprinkle baking soda in the bowl and leave a while before flushing.

7. If you spill liquids on a book or drop a book in the bath (horrors!) – sprinkle baking soda on the wet pages and let them dry – in the sun if possible.

8. If you need buttermilk for a recipe and don’t have any – mix one cup of milk with a tablespoon of lemon juice. This substitute tastes just as good as the real thing.

9. To refresh and sanitize a cutting board – rub all over with the cut side of a lemon or wash in undiluted lemon juice.

10. To sanitize your dishwasher – make sure the dishwasher is empty and place lemon juice in the soap dispenser. Run a normal wash cycle. This also makes the dishwasher smell nice.

11. To remove mildew use a mixture of salt and lemon juice.

12. To mop up oven spills if something bubbles over in your oven – put a handful of salt on top of the spilled juice. The mess won’t smell and will bake into a dry, light crust that can be wiped off easily when the oven has cooled.

13. Remove red wine from a tablecloth after a clumsy guest spills their drink – pour a little salt onto the splash immediately. This will soak up the wine. When the meal ends whisk off the cloth and soak it.

Do you have any good household hints?

Source: Green Cleaning by Margaret Briggs and Vivian Head

Get Lost in London

Mr Munro and I spent six years living in London. A country girl, I didn’t think I’d enjoy living in a big city, but I grew to love it and was sorry to leave. There’s so much to see and do, so much history, and when I needed open spaces a walk or run in one of London’s many parks such as Kensington Gardens or Hyde Park.

Here are a few of the sights around the city of London.

UK - London_Tower Bridge

This is the famous Tower Bridge on the river Thames.

UK - London, Regent Park

This is Regent’s Park, once hunting grounds for Henry VIII. It is now the home of the London zoo.

UK - London, Kew Gardens

This is one of the many glasshouses at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. The gardens are huge and take all day to wander around. They are home to a wide variety of plants from all corners of the world, some of which are very rare.

UK - London_Big Ben

The famous Big Ben. The name refers to the bell within the clock tower and hearing Ben chime is quite special. I gawked every time I walked past.

 

UK - London_Horseguard

A horse guard. The horses are so quiet. They stand calmly while tourists act quite stupidly, jumping around with their cameras and shrieking.

If you could go to London tomorrow what landmark would you want to visit first?

11 Tips for Hiring Women

Doing the Sports Jock hop? Scroll down or here’s a direct link to the Sports Jock hop

Woman at work Fotolia_6074691_L

This article appeared in the winter issue of Best of Times, a magazine for senior citizens and was reprinted from the July 1943 issue of Transportation Magazine. It made me laugh, but I’m really glad that times have changed!

This is the advice given to the male supervisors who were in charge of women in the workforce during the second world war.

1. Pick young married women. They usually have more of a sense of responsibility than their unmarried sisters, and they’re less likely to be flirtatious.

2. When you have to use older women, try to get ones who have worked outside the home at some time in their lives. Older women who have never contacted the public have a hard time adapting themselves and are inclined to be cantankerous and fussy.

3. General experience indicates that ‘husky’ girls – those who are just a little on the heavy side – are more even tempered and efficient than their underweight sisters.

4. Retain a physician to give each woman you hire a special physical examination – one covering female conditions. This step not only protects the property against possibilities of lawsuit but reveals whether the employee-to-be has any female weaknesses that would make her mentally or physically unfit for the job.

5. Stress at the outset the importance of time – a minute or two lost here and there makes a serious inroad on schedules.

6. Give the female employee a definite schedule of duties so they’ll keep busy without bothering the management for instructions every few minutes. Women make excellent workers when they have their jobs cut out for them, but they lack initiative in finding work themselves.

7. Whenever possible, let the employee change from one job to another during the day. Women are inclined to be less nervous and happier with change.

8. Give every girl an adequate number of rest periods during the day. You have to make some allowances for feminine psychology. A girl has more confidence and is more efficient if she can keep her hair tidied, apply fresh lipstick, and wash her hands several times a day.

9. Be tactful when issuing instructions or in making criticisms. Women are often sensitive; they can’t shrug off harsh words the way men do. Never ridicule a woman – it breaks her spirit and cuts off her efficiency.

10. Be reasonably considerate about using strong language around women. Even though a girl’s husband or father may swear vociferously, she’ll grow to dislike a place of business where she hears too much of this.

11. Get enough size variety in operators’ uniforms so that each girl can have a proper fit. This point can’t be stressed too much in keeping women happy.

I bet the male author of these tips never once considered that New Zealand might have a female prime minister one day. We’ve actually had two different female prime ministers and have many women members of parliament. Women can rule the world!

A Rock Star Romantic Lead is Born!

The Flower Bowl Spell

I’m thrilled to introduce Olivia Boler and her new release The Flower Bowl Spell. Olivia’s book is a blend of genres and elements and is a fun read. I’ll let her tell you about her book and the inspiration for one of her rock star characters. Over to Olivia.

Thank you so much to Shelley Munro for letting me guest blog today. How cool to reach an international audience from my San Francisco, California home base!

My novel, The Flower Bowl Spell, is about a Chinese American witch named Memphis Zhang, who, after abandoning magick for two years, suddenly finds herself pulled back into that world when a fairy shows up while she’s waiting for a Metro train. She’s also a journalist, writing kind of fluffy articles about music, movies, and entertainment. It just so happens, one of her interview subjects, a rising rock star named Tyson Belmonte, is connected to her past, and she finds herself drawn to him despite the fact she’s in a “normal” relationship…with her former high school French teacher. Admittedly, the love triangle is not the main focus of the novel, but there’s definitely a tension there.

Doug RobbTyson has become a fan favorite, I’ve noticed, so I thought I’d tell readers a little bit about the inspiration for his character. He is Asian American—Filipino, to be precise—and the lead singer of an alternative rock band. As I came up with Ty’s back-story, I thought a lot about guy friends I’d grown up with in San Francisco, many of them Asian (if you didn’t know, San Francisco has a big Asian population—I myself am mixed race, half Chinese and half Caucasian). Many of these guys were cool, smart, athletic, funny, and sexy—just like Tyson. One of my goals for the novel was to spotlight my community without getting into heavy issues (e.g. racial tensions). In general, I find myself creating characters that are like the people around me.

Anyway, one day, my husband was watching TV and I heard this song come on that’d been getting a lot of play on the radio. I glanced up from my book and lo and behold, there was this good-looking Asian guy singing his heart out in a music video. I found out later hat he was Doug Robb of Hoobastank and the song was “The Reason.” I hadn’t seen a lot of Asian lead singers outside of Asia, and to discover Doug was such a gift for Memphis’s story because in that moment I knew that Tyson was a rock star. So, in addition to everyday life influences, I also got a little inspiration from the world of pop music. In a way, “The Reason” is the perfect song for The Flower Bowl Spell’s soundtrack.

What about you, readers? What songs do you imagine hearing when you read or write? How do songs inspire your creativity?


clip_image002THE FLOWER BOWL SPELL

by Olivia Boler

Blurb:

Journalist Memphis Zhang isn’t ashamed of her Wiccan upbringing—in fact, she’s proud to be one of a few Chinese American witches in San Francisco, and maybe the world. Unlike the well-meaning but basically powerless Wiccans in her disbanded coven, Memphis can see fairies, read auras, and cast spells that actually work—even though she concocts them with ingredients like Nutella and antiperspirant. Yet after a friend she tries to protect is brutally killed, Memphis, full of guilt, abandons magick to lead a “normal” life.

The appearance, however, of her dead friend’s attractive rock star brother—as well as a fairy in a subway tunnel—suggest that magick is not done with her. Reluctantly, Memphis finds herself dragged back into the world of urban magick, trying to stop a power-hungry witch from using the dangerous Flower Bowl Spell and killing the people Memphis loves—and maybe even Memphis herself.

Praise for THE FLOWER BOWL SPELL:

"Olivia Boler’s The Flower Bowl Spell is a genre-bending ride with sexy rock stars, Californian witches, children with potentially otherworldly gifts, and the occasional fairy. But it is also a story of identity, of the sometimes warring facets that make and shape a human being. Beautifully written, witty, and brimming with both ordinary and fantastical life, The Flower Bowl Spell will charm readers everywhere." — Siobhan Fallon, author of You Know When the Men Are Gone

Purchase The Flower Bowl Spell

Book Trailer http://youtu.be/tq2bMQNyLeY

clip_image004

Author Bio

Olivia Boler is the author of two novels, YEAR OF THE SMOKE GIRL and THE FLOWER BOWL SPELL. Poet Gary Snyder described SMOKE GIRL as a "dense weave in the cross-cultural multi-racial world of complex, educated hip contemporary coast-to-coast America…It is a fine first novel, rich in paradox and detail."

A freelance writer who received her master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis, Boler has published short stories in the Asian American Women Artists Association (AAWAA) anthology Cheers to Muses, the literary journal MARY, and The Lyon Review, among others. She lives in San Francisco with her family. To find out about her latest work, visit http://oliviaboler.com

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/OliviaBolerAuthor

Twitter http://twitter.com/oliviaboler

Rodeo! About Farms and Bull Riders

NOTE: visitors for the HOT JOCK blog hop, please scroll down.

Debra Kayn is visiting today. While she’s discussing farms, bull riders and handy-dandy items with multiple uses, I’ve going to sit back in the winter sun and continue reading her new release, Rodeo Rebel. I left Florentine and Cole at an impasse and need to learn what happens next. Over to Debra!

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen things you can find around the farm or ranch that come in handy for other things.

1. Twine – Typically used to secure hay bales. We use twine to stake plants, hang bird feeders, make gate latches, and tie items on the back of the quad as we’re working around the property. If you have long hair, you can quickly braid and tie when you get caught without a rubberband.

2. Laundry detergent buckets – Used to haul feed and water. Used to organize bolts and hand tools in the barn or garage. Also great to use when washing cars and tractors to hold your soapy water.

3. Vinegar – We also wash our windows with a mix of vinegar and water in a spray bottom. Then scrub the glass dry with wadded up newspaper for a streak-free shine.

4. Dog nail clippers – Work great for clipping off the thorns of a rose bush when you want to gather a bunch for in the house.

5. Horse brushes – Work great as a boot brush to knock off the mud and dirt before coming in the house.

6. Cattle or Hog panels – Arched and staked in the ground make a wonderful archway to grow peas, green beans, or grapes on, and will last forever.

7. Mane & Tail Shampoo and Conditioner – Made for horses, and safe enough for human use. If you suffer from tangles, it’s wonderful.

8. Tractor inner tubes – When inflated it makes a great trampoline for kids and adults in the yard, or if you want to try to curl inside and go for a ride downhill.

9. Rake heads – When the handle breaks on your rake, you can still use the rake head in your country chic décor! Nailed to the wall, they make a great coat rack. You can also hang dog leases, belts, necklaces, and umbrellas from the many prongs.

10. Egg shells – Crush and sprinkle into the ground around plants to help them grow. It’s a great source of calcium, which plants need.

11. Plastic Milk Jugs – If you cut “flaps” around the sides (along the length) and stick them on a fence post beside your garden, the wind makes a howling sound and rattles the plastic…scaring the deer and rabbits away from the garden.

12. Chicken hook – Typically used to catch chicken. They are great for hooking apples off the tree that are too far out of reach.

13. Chicken wire – Have outside deck steps that get slick in the winter? Cover the step with chicken wire and tack the edges underneath the step. It makes a nifty non-skid surface and you can easily remove it during the summer.

Can you think of anything around your house that you use for something else besides the real purpose of the item?

Rodeo Rebel

Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

 

Rodeo RebelBlurb

When widower and land baron Cole Reardon acquired the Turner Grain Corporation, he didn’t know the company sponsored a bull rider. He refuses to support thrill-seekers dumb enough to get on the back of a crazed animal. He’s not willing to risk his fortune and livelihood when he has his daughter’s well-being to consider. Not even when the bull rider is the sexiest woman he’s ever seen.

Bull rider Florentine McDougal plans to turn pro after the season championship, fulfilling her lifelong dream of succeeding in a man’s world. That is, until Cole Reardon shows up and threatens to break his sponsorship contract with her. Now everything she’s worked for is less than eight seconds away from being destroyed.

Cole distracts Florentine with his sexy mouth and unreasonable demands, and he’s not going to compromise his integrity. But she’s not going to let him loose until she has pro status. And neither will come away from this dust-up unscathed.

Multi-published Romance Author, Debra Kayn, lives with her family in the beautiful coastal mountains of Oregon on a hobby farm. During the summer, she enjoys riding motorcycles, gardening, playing tennis, and fishing. During the winter, you’ll find her outside playing in the snow. A cold weather nut, she lives for the days she’s snowbound and fighting with the woodstove to keep the house warm when the power goes out. A huge animal lover, she always has a dog under her desk when she writes and chickens standing at the front door looking for a treat. She’s famous in her family for teaching a 270 lb pig named Harley to jog with her every morning.

Her love of family ties and laughter makes her a natural to write heartwarming contemporary stories to the delight of her readers. As someone who met her husband on a blind date when she was nineteen years old, she’s a believer of love at first sight and happily ever after.

Visit Debra’s website

Follow Debra on Twitter

Like Debra on Facebook

Friend Debra on Facebook

Want to Live in a Castle?

I’m continuing my run up to the Olympic games by revisiting some of my British photos. The theme for this week is castles.

Let’s get started…

UK - Arundel Castle

This is Arundel Castle, the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk, in West Sussex. Some of the scenes in The Young Victoria, starring Emily Blunt, were filmed here.

 

UK - Bodiam Castle

This is Bodiam Castle in East Sussex. It was built in 1385 and was used as both a home and secure fortress. Pretty setting, no?

 

UK - Brighton

And here we have the fanciful Royal Pavilion, built for the Prince Regent between 1787 and 1823. It’s a real Brighton icon.

 

UK - Buckingham Palace

This is the famous Buckingham Palace in central London, home of the Queen.

Britain is full of castles, ranging from ruins you can wander around and explore at will to huge castles full of amazing treasures and stories. It’s hard to pick my favorite castle, but I did enjoy Warwick Castle in Warwickshire, which has jousting and all sorts of interesting events.

Is there a particular English castle you’ve always dreamed of visiting?

Bread:The Staff of Life

“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” ~ James Beard (1903-1985)

About a month ago I watched a River Cottage cooking episode featuring Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. The entire show was about making bread. Mr Munro is a champion bread maker, and while we have homemade bread on occasion, we purchase bread on a weekly basis. After watching the show, I started to wonder. The price of bread in New Zealand has jumped during the last two years. It’s not cheap. What would happen if we made our own bread and didn’t buy any?

I thought about it for a few more days before mentioning the show and my idea to my husband.

“Okay,” he said. “We could try it and see how we go.”

Since there is only two of us, we’ve made bread about twice a week. It’s been a fun project and we both enjoy making bread by hand. The kneading stage is very therapeutic, especially after a crappy day at work.

We make the same basic recipe every time and vary the flavor additions. (nuts, seeds, dried fruit, onion, sundried tomatoes, olives etc) The only limit is our imagination. Sometimes we make focaccia bread while this weekend we made one loaf and half a dozen pull apart rolls. We’re finding the bread is staying fresh. It makes good toast, and it tastes good. Best of all we don’t have all the additives and extras commercially made bread contains.

Pull Apart Rolls & Loaf of Bread

Here’s Hugh’s basic recipe, which is quite similar to ours.

For one loaf or focaccia or to make half a dozen rolls:

1 Tablespoon yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1 1/3 cups warm water

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Mix these ingredients together and let sit until the yeast starts to froth. This won’t take long if you purchase special bread making yeast from the supermarket.

3 cups flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

sprinkle of salt

Add the wet yeast mix to the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until a dough is formed. At this stage we knead the dough then cover with a plastic shower cap and leave to rise in the bowl. When the dough has doubled in size, we remove it from the bowl, knock it back, and place in a greased tin. Leave to rise again before cooking.

The cooking time depends on what we’re making, but we cook a loaf for about 20 – 25 minutes at 200C.

Note – Hubby always uses baking powder, but Hugh’s recipe doesn’t contain it. I’m going to try Hugh’s recipe next time.

Do you like fresh bread? Have you tried making bread before? What is your favorite type of bread?



  • Page 1 of 2
  • 1
  • 2
  • >