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Archive for November, 2015

Make it a Paranormal Christmas

If you enjoy paranormal romance and like to get into a festive mood by reading a few Christmas stories, then I have a treat for you.

Naughty, Nice and Paranormal and the sister box set Sugar, Spice and Shifters is out today. Both box sets are 99c and feature 15 stories. That’s 30 sips of Christmas paranormal magic for $1.98.

I have a House of the Cat story in Naughty, Nice and Paranormal. Learn how Camryn, Ry and their friends spend their first Christmas on Viros.

Naughty Nice and Paranormal

Sugar, Spice and Shifters

Purchase Naughty, Nice and Paranormal and Sugar, Spice and Shifters and start your romantic and relaxing journey toward Christmas Winking smile

The Lure of Body Parts

Body language is a fascinating subject and a writer can do a lot with their characters in this respect. I’ve read a few books on the subject, and I always enjoy the TV program Lie To Me, which uses body language as a focal point for the show.

The Definitive Book of Body Language by Barbara Pease has a section on the things men and women first notice about prospective partners.

Male Torso

When men look at a woman they’re generally attracted to certain parts of the anatomy—the butt, breasts or legs. And believe it or not, this attraction is all tied up with reproduction.

So here’s the low down on each choice:

Butts – men find rounded, peach-shaped buttocks the most attractive. Female primates display their buttocks when they’re ready to mate. It shows they are receptive and available. Human females display their butts all the time, and this gives males the impression she’s available. Women also store fat in their buttocks for breastfeeding and as an emergency food storage in lean times. Note to self – remember this when complaining about current butt size!

Breasts—they serve as a sexual signal. Men are attracted to cleavage.

Legs—long legs are a non-verbal signal telling males that a woman is sexually mature and capable of childbearing. Men like women who wear high-heels because it gives the illusion of fertile looking legs.

When we women look at male body parts a sexual response is triggered in us too. Here’s the low down from the feminine prospective:

We like chests—a wide chest tapering to narrow hips allows a man to lug heavy weapons for long distances and to carry home their kills. Always handy, I think!

We like small, tight butts—a tight, muscular butt is necessary to make a strong forward thrust that’s needed for sperm transfer during sex. A man with a flabby butt has problems with this and tends to throw his entire body into the thrust, which isn’t comfortable for his partner.

We also like hips and muscular legs. They’re symbols of masculine power and endurance. Long, muscular legs allow a man to run swiftly, chase and hunt. Ladies like a man who can provide for them.

Interesting stuff, isn’t it? I tend to check out a man’s butt—don’t tell hubby. I had no idea I was thinking about forward thrusting. Really! No idea at all…

If you’re looking at a person of the opposite sex, which part do you check out first?

13 Places to Visit in Sydney, Australia

Thursday Thirteen

We recently spent the weekend in Sydney. It’s a fun place to visit with lots to do. Here are thirteen suggestions of places to see while visiting Sydney.

1. The Sydney Opera House – do a tour or go and see a show.

Sydney Opera House

2. The Sydney Harbor bridge – walk over it, climb on top of it or climb the pylons for an excellent view.

Sydney Harbor Bridge

3. Catch the ferry over to Manly and Manly beach.

4. Catch the ferry to the zoo. The giraffes have the best view in town!

Zoo

5. Visit Bondi Beach – world renowned surf beach.

Bondi Beach

6. Go to Darling Harbor, have a meal at one of the many restaurants and people watch.

7. Take a walk in the Royal Botanic Gardens, 30 hectares of peaceful gardens and areas to walk.

8. Visit the Rocks area with its convict history.

9. Walk around the harbor promenade. People watch, stop to listen to the Aboriginal music and stop and have a coffee or a drink.

10. Catch a ferry up the Parramatta River to historical Parramatta.

Parramatta River

11. Visit Cockatoo Island, the largest island in the harbor. It was an Aboriginal fishing spot and later a prison to house convicts from Norfolk Island.

12. Visit Luna Park, a 1930s amusement park.

13. Hit the museums and art galleries and learn about the First Fleet, the sea history and the Aboriginal art.

Which place would you like to visit first?

A Writing Companion and Assistant

Writing is a solitary occupation—at least the first part of the book writing process is done alone. I do most of my writing sitting in my La-Z-Boy chair or if I want a change of scenery, I head out to a café.

When I write at home, I have an assistant. Here she is…meet Bella.

Assistant Bella

Bella’s job—as she sees it:

1. To make sure I don’t suffer from bottom spread. She nags me with loud barks when it’s time for me to do some exercise.

2. To take regular meal breaks. Again, her barking gets my attention, but she also comes to me chair and makes sure I haven’t missed the message that it’s food time.

3. To collect the mail. She likes to know that we can afford to pay for her food during the coming month and likes checks almost as much as I do.

4. To discourage door-to-door salesmen. No one should distract her partner when she’s in writing mode.

5. To suggest plotting breaks. She signals this by appearing with a tennis ball or her favorite toy.

6. To dispense cuddles when the writing isn’t going well. She edges her way onto my chair, nudging the laptop out of the way.

We have a pretty good partnership, Bella and I, and her excellent understanding of what makes a happy author brings fun to my writing process.

Do you have someone who helps you during the writing process or keeps you company when you’re reading?

Wandering the Agora

Athens_Agora Tortoise

When we were wandering around the Agora (the old marketplace and civic center) in Athens, not far from the Acropolis, we came across this tortoise. He was meandering between the ruins, calmly ignoring the tourists. He obviously thought the dandelions were more interesting!

Blue Moon Dragon

I am in love with this cover for my dragon shifter romance, Blue Moon Dragon. The cover design was done by Kim Killion at The Killion Group.

Blue Moon Dragon

What do you think?

A Trio of Kiwis

A Trio of Kiwis

Earlier this year my husband and I went on a cruise around the coast of New Zealand and over to Australia. Most of the passengers on the ship came from America and Canada and the following conversation came up several times with various people.

“I like eating kiwi. They’re very tasty.”

Mr. Munro and I would look at each other in horror before saying, “You mean you like to eat kiwifruit. You can’t go around eating kiwis in New Zealand.”

So, for those of you who are confused I’ll give you some definitions:

A kiwi is a native bird of New Zealand. It’s flightless and nocturnal with a long, narrow beak, which it uses to dig in the ground for bugs and worms. The kiwi is protected—no snacking on these birds—and due to deforestation and the introduction of pests such as stoats, rats and weasels, is becoming increasingly rare.

Kiwi

A kiwifruit—note the addition of the word fruit!—is a brown and fuzzy fruit. When it’s cut open the fruit is green and the middle is flecked with lots of black seeds. The kiwifruit was formerly called a Chinese Gooseberry since the vine originated in China. We have grown kiwifruit in New Zealand since the early 1900s and it was renamed in 1959. We also have golden kiwifruit, which are slightly different. The outside of the fruit is still brown, but they’re a different shape and don’t have the fuzz that the green kiwifruit possess. Inside they’re golden with the fleck of black seeds. The taste is different from the green ones. I think they’re sweeter, and they remind me of honey.

Kiwifruit

Kiwi is the affectionate name for a New Zealander. If you were to hear the words, here come the Kiwis you’ll mostly likely see a sports team. By definition, I am a Kiwi since I was born in New Zealand.

Shelley

Many of my books are set in New Zealand, which means they’re full of Kiwis. You’ll know by now, I mean the people.

Have you read a book set in New Zealand? Have you seen a kiwi? Have you tried golden kiwifruit?

A Field Guide to Dragons

Thursday Thirteen

Dragons were a popular subject with scholars, especially Victorian ones. They took on the task of cataloguing dragons.

The categories are as follows:

1. The Wyvern:

The name orginates from the Saxon word wivere or serpent. Its large body coiled, it had eagle’s legs and huge wings. Feared for its vicious nature and the pestilence it carried to northern Europe, Greece and Ethiopia.

2. The Amphiptere:

A legless, winged serpent found along the banks of the Nile and in Arabia. They are known to guard frankincense bearing trees, causing a threat to those who wished to harvest the resin.

3. The Heraldic Dragon:

Widespread and formidable, this dragon has massive fangs, four clawed legs and a ridge of sharp spines that stretch from nose to stinging tail.

4. The Guivre:

Wingless and legless, it has a massive dragon head, horns and a beard. They live in forests and wells and near water.

5. The Lindworm:

Has a serpentine body with one pair of legs. It is flightless

6. Cave Dweller:

Dragons like the dark, coldness of caves. They were private and easily defended. Caves close to towns (and food) are best.

7. Mountain Predators:

The elevation of mountains allows a dragon to spy on their prey and swoop down without warning. Their inaccessibility offers safety.

8. Aquatic Denizens:

These dragons live in seas, rivers and lakes and dine on fish and unlucky fishermen and sailors. The water allows them to approach towns and food sources undetected.

9. Swamp Beasts:

They live in marshes and swamps, some of which are rumored to be bottomless. The swamps are cold during the summer and don’t freeze in winter.

10. Celestial Guardians:

These dragons protected the heavens and also the mansions of the gods. These dragons have five claws instead of the normal four.

11. Treasure Keepers:

Subterranean dragons are responsible for all the precious jewels and metals buried in the earth. Each of these dragons owned a pearl, which reputably multiplied whatever it touched.

12. Weathermakers:

These spiritual dragons governed the wind, clouds and rain. They floated across the sky and the locals took care to appease them in case they took offence and created bad weather.

13. River Lords:

Earth dragons determined the course of the rivers. They regulated their flow and maintained their banks. Every river in China had an earth dragon that controlled the waters.

Source: The Enchanted World: Dragons

Which dragon would you prefer to meet?

The Old Marketplace: Agora

Athens_Agora

This is one of the buildings/ruins in the Agora, the old marketplace and civic center  in Athens. It’s a huge area, and after walking all morning and looking at many ruins, my feet were getting tired. The half-hearted smile, or grimace if you want truth, was an indication that I needed to sit down, preferably with a cold drink!

A New Path: Kindle Scout with Jenny Schwartz

Last week, I discovered Australian author Jenny Schwartz is doing a Kindle Scout campaign. I was curious and contacted her with my nosy questions, which she has graciously answered.

Welcome, Jenny!

skg1

Please tell us a little about the Kindle Scout program.

In its own words, Kindle Scout is a program that lets readers discover never-before-published books, nominate them and, if they’re selected for publication, receive a free digital copy. Yep, free! That’s awesome.

The nomination period for a book is 30 days. After that, it can take anywhere up to 45 days to hear if a nominated book will be published, or not.

The Kindle Scout is run by Amazon, so if you’re a kindle-reader (like me) it makes things very convenient.

What made you decide to try the Kindle Scout route for your book, Sky Garden?

I decided to test the Kindle Scout waters with Sky Garden for a few reasons. For a start, I thought that the romantic suspense premise of the novel suited Kindle Scout. More on that later! Secondly, discoverability is a big issue these days, with so many books being released. Since Kindle Scout is part of Amazon, I hope it’ll help readers discover Sky Garden AND my other books. Thirdly, I wanted to try something outside my comfort zone, something that pushed me to strategic promotional activity (I discuss my marketing campaign here and my Facebook advertising here).

What do you think are the advantages of a program like this?

For readers, it’s a chance to discover new books and score some free! I take that as a win J

For authors, it opens a few doors. Whether Kindle Scout picks your book for publication or not, the 30 day campaign opens a lot of doors. Some of these are about building your support network (I’ve found this Kindle Scout support/info thread on Kindleboards very encouraging). Others are about engaging in some reality checking – Kindle Scout gives you the statistics of page views and sources of traffic (I discuss the value of these statistics here).

What is the hardest part of this program for you?

Sky GardenThe 30 days of the campaign! Who knew 30 days was so long???

I’m not a very patient person, and actually, that’s a bit of what appealed to me about Kindle Scout. All joking aside about a month being a long time, the turnaround is actually super-fast for publishing, and that appeals to me.

Tell us about Sky Garden, your romantic suspense.

Sky Garden is a contemporary London romance with a haunting edge.

Lanie Briers used to perform as a medium, before a serial killer kidnapped her. Now she hides above a quirky Bloomsbury museum because the killer might be dead, but his evil haunts her.

Nick Tawes is filming a TV series on roof gardens. He intends to build one in Lanie’s rooftop retreat. The illegitimate son of British aristocracy, he fights his own demons.

As summer progresses and the sky garden grows, secrets are revealed. But someone is watching, and he’ll kill to bury forever one final truth.

Where can we nominate Sky Garden for Kindle Scout?

Here! https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/3C4OSPPILOSLJ And thank you :) The nomination period ends November 21, 2015.

Thanks so much, Shelley, for the chance to chat about my Kindle Scout experience. I’ve tried not to ramble, but if anyone has any questions, I’d love to chat some more, so please, ask!

Jenny Schwartz is a hopeful romantic with a degree in Sociology and History—people watching and digging into the past. She lives in Western Australia and is working towards her dream of living by the sea. Jenny writes contemporary romance, paranormal romance and steampunk. Find all her books listed on her website, http://authorjennyschwartz.com