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

Archive for the 'Book Research' Category

A Visit to the Tui Brewery – Yeah Right!

During our recent trip we visited the Tui Brewery in Mangatainoka. It was a lunch stop, and of course, we had to try the beer.

According to legend, in 1889 a man called Henry Wagstaff stopped on the banks of the Mangatainoka River to make a cup of tea. That cup of tea was the best cup of tea he’d ever tasted, and right there and then he decided that with such great water, this would be the perfect spot to build a brewery.

So he did.

Beer is still brewed at this spot. Fine beer. I know because I’ve tasted it.

While the beer is tasty, the Tui Brewery is famous for something else—their tongue-in-cheek advertising. The woman responsible for the cheeky ads noticed how many people were saying, “Yeah, right.” and she decided to use this in the Tui advertising campaign. Some of the billboards are controversial, others are plain funny and all of them use Kiwi humor.

Tui Brewery Sign

We arrived just on opening time at 11.00 a.m. I was really disappointed to discover the brewery closed. We turned the car around and when we drove back, it was magically open. I obviously didn’t check the opening hours properly!

Tui Brewery

One of the Yeah right signs. This one is right outside the brewery.

A Factory Close-up

Mr. Munro at the bar

We had a drink and a meal. Both were delicious.

Yeah, right!

A view of the iconic Tui Brewery

A view of the iconic Tui Brewery

Trips and tours through the Tui Brewery are very popular. They even do a trip on a steam train, which might possibily make an appearance in one of my upcoming romances.

The Story Behind: Military Men – Innocent Next Door #romance #research

Before I published my first book, I wrote a story called Summer in the City. The heroine was a country girl and funnily enough, her name was Summer. She was a trainee librarian, and she moved to Auckland for further training and to get away from her overprotective family. I knew she came from the country, but I wasn’t sure where Summer and her family lived.

I consulted a map and finally decided on Eketahuna because I liked the name and the way it sounded. For the uninitiated, Eketahuna is north of Wellington. As I mentioned, it’s a country town, but I’d never visited the place before.

The story featuring Summer is available now as Innocent Next Door, the first book in my Military Men series.

I’ve always meant to write more stories in this series, and earlier this year, I had the spark of an idea for one of Summer’s brothers.

Two weeks ago, Mr. Munro and I flew down to Palmerston North, hired a car and drove down to Eketahuna. I took lots of notes and photos and the new story is percolating away inside my head. Like many of our country towns, Eketahuna is smaller than it used to be, but one thing that delighted me is that the town still has a library.

Here are a few photos of Eketahuna

Kiwi - Eketahuna

Wild kiwis live in the Eketahuna area so there are lots of Kiwi signs.

Eketahuna Township

The township of Eketahuna. A sleepy little town!

Eketahuna - Kiwi

More kiwis!

Eketahuna Church

The Anglican (Church of England) church.

Surrounding Countryside

Beautiful countryside surrounds the town of Eketahuna.

Check out the books in the Military Men series:

Book 1 – Innocent Next Door
Book 2 – Soldier With Benefits
Book 3 – Safeguarding Sorrel
Military Men Box set – featuring books 1 – 3

Dogsledding, Churchill, Manitoba, Canada #travel

During our visit to Churchill, we spent a morning at Wapusk Adventures, the largest dog sled kennels in Canada.

The owners are passionate about their dogs and sledding, and I found the owner’s talk both interesting and inspiring. After learning about the dogs and the sport of sledding, we got to meet the dogs and do a mile circuit with a team of sled dogs. Fun times. After our sled ride, I had to purchase a T-shirt to add to my collection. I am now the proud owner of an Ididamile T-shirt.

If you’re ever up in Churchill I recommend a visit to Wapusk Adventures.

Watch for Mushers

Some of the local signage…

Dogs

The dogs knew that some of them were about to go for a run. They barked and jumped around trying to grab attention. It was the doggie version of pick me! Pick me!

Shelley and one of the locals

Me with one of the locals.

Time for a sleep

I didn’t get picked. I think I’ll have a snooze.

Hubby and I with our dog team

This is hubby and I during our sled ride. So much fun!

Fiona’s Mates: The idea behind the story and Cover Reveal #paranormal #romance #reverseharem

In October 2017, hubby and I visited the small town of Churchill in Canada to see polar bears. The remote town and its relationship with the polar bears fascinated me. When I learned that the town was only accessible by plane, due to the storm damage of the railway, ideas for stories flew through my mind.

Our trip ended in Fort Lauderdale in Florida and we went sightseeing via water taxis when we were there. That destination also made an impression on me, and got tossed into my story idea pot.

My paranormal romance Fiona’s Mates is the result of my visit to Churchill, the polar bears and hearing about the ice road. I also added in Fort Lauderdale, since the journey on the water taxis was so much fun.

Fiona's Mates

Here is the blurb for Fiona’s Mates:

A woman seeking change meets five sexy brothers…

When Fiona catches her callous, chauvinistic husband with another woman, she puts a full stop on their marriage. No longer prepared to put up with his abusive behavior, she kicks him out the door, determined to start afresh. A vacation is the perfect way to attack her adventurous new life.

Stig is the youngest of five polar bear shifters, and his scheme to start an ice trucking business puts him and his brothers on an untraditional path. With everyone in Churchill against them—humans and shifters plus their matriarch—it’s a challenge to get their ice trucks on the road.

Fiona meets the sexy Stig and his gorgeous brother in Gillam. With their bulging muscles and stunning Nordic looks, something about the smiling duo imbues trust. Then, she meets their three older brothers, each charming and handsome, and her libido is in overdrive. She has a dilemma since they’re openly interested in her, and it is impossible to choose one.

Now that Fiona’s vacation is ending, she’s talking about returning to Florida, but that might not be the worse of the trouble when danger stalks into Churchill and threatens to end their reverse harem forever…

Coming 22 March at Amazon.

Other Animals on the Tundra #travel #Churchill #animals

The tundra has plenty of wildlife. It’s finding and seeing the birds and animals that is the tricky thing.
Along with polar bears, we saw Arctic hare, ptarmigan, Arctic fox and an owl.

Here are some pics of the animals we saw during our visit.Ptarmigan

This is a Ptarmigan. We saw quite a few, some whiter than others. The ones that weren’t white yet still had some of their summer plummage.

Owl

An owl. So majestic.

Arctic hare

The Arctic hares were very cool. They just sat there in the snow and stared back at us. They were hard to spot in the snow.

Arctic Fox

This little Arctic fox just wanted to snooze but he had a buggy full of tourists wanting his picture.

Polar Bear

And finally, a polar bear, the animal we traveled all the way to Churchill to see.

Exploring the Tundra #travel #Churchill

Most people who visit Churchill to view the polar bears go on an organized tour. The tour companies have special vehicles known as tundra buggies. They have huge wheels and are high enough off the ground for tourists to view curious bears without putting themselves in danger.

The roads through the tundra are not maintained and can be quite rough but the tundra buggies slog through the mud and deep ruts, mostly without problem.

The cabins of the buggies are heated and set out like the interior of a bus. There are toilet facilities. At the rear of the vehicle there is a deck area, which is perfect for taking photos.

I found the buggies comfortable and because of their height, they’re perfect for photographers. We had morning and afternoon tea plus lunch during our day-long trips.

Here are some photos…

Tundra Buggy

See the big tires of the tundra buggies? They’re perfect for dealing with the conditions and for keeping passengers safe from bears.

The interior is like a bus. It’s warm and comfortable with big windows for keen photographers. Each buggy comes with an experienced guide and a driver. As well as seeing polar bears, we learned a lot about the bears and their behavior.

Me on the rear platform. When the wind was blowing, it was pretty cold out there!

In Fiona’s Mates, Fiona doesn’t sightsee from a tundra buggy, although she does see the buggies when the Swenson brothers take her on a tour of the area.

Polar Bears – Things I Learned During My Churchill Visit #travel #bookresearch

One of the things I love about travel is learning new things. Travel is an excellent educator. Before our visit to Churchill I knew nothing about polar bears, apart from the fact they are white. I even got that wrong because while the cubs can be quite white the adults are a vanilla color.

Things I learned about Polar Bears:

1. Polar bears inhabit the Arctic in areas where they have easy access to sea ice such as Canada, Alaska, Russia, Norway and Greenland.

2. Around 60% of polar bears live in Canada.

3. Polar bears are perfectly adapted for the cold weather of the Arctic from their fur, their black skin to their claws.

4. Polar bears rely on the sea ice since they feed on seals and they are strong swimmers.

5. Polar bears communicate with body language, the way they vocalize and with scent

6. Polar bears keep themselves clean, which helps keep them insulated and warm.

7. The bears sleep for seven to eight hours at a time, much like humans.

8. They sleep in shallow pits or sheltered areas. During the summer, they’ll seek out ice to keep cool.

9. Mating takes place between April and June while the bears are on the sea ice.

10. The eggs do not implant until the following fall. If the mother does not have enough body fat to sustain her cubs and herself, then the eggs do not implant at all.

11. Most cubs are born in December. A mother can have 1 – 4 cubs. Twins are common.

12. Newborns are blind, toothless and covered with short fur. They are completely dependent on their mother and nurse for around 20 months.

13. Cubs stay with their mother for 2 – 3 years and she teaches them to hunt, feed and swim.

14. The ringed seal is their main prey, although they will eat whales, eggs, and other small mammals.

15. Polar bears don’t hibernate, apart from pregnant females who den up to have their cubs and stay in the den until the cubs are strong enough to leave.

16. Polar bears can go up to eight months without eating.

Source: Polar Bear International

Polar Bear

Polar Bear

Polar Bear

Where is the Town of Churchill? #travel #bookresearch

Ask most people living in Canada or the United States and they have problems stating the exact location of the town of Churchill. As a New Zealander, I didn’t know anything about Churchill until I picked up a National Geographic Travel magazine. I flicked through and stopped at the pictures of polar bears.

“We should do this,” I said to my husband when he came home from work.

I half expected him to say, “No, that doesn’t sound very appealing.”

I was wrong. We investigated further and booked. This was my introduction to the remote Churchill, the town billed as the polar bear capital of the world.

Churchill is a small town, situated on the Hudson Bay in Manitoba, Canada. The town can only be reached by plane. (They used to have a railroad but storms damaged the line and the owners have decided not to fix the track)

Each year, the polar bears congregate in the area to wait for the sea ice to form on the bay. The bears sometimes wander into town, searching for food, which makes life in Churchill dangerous for the unwary.

The town started life as an outpost. It grew in the 1920s once the railroad brought people into town and the addition of a shipping port. The military came to town in the 1950s and 1960s, further bolstering the population.
These days the permanent residents number around 1000. This number is boosted by tourists who come to visit the polar bears (Oct – Nov) or the beluga whales that mass in the warmer waters of the Hudson river during the June – September period.

Although remote, the town has cell phone coverage and internet. They even have great coffee!
We enjoyed our visit very much, although I suspect it isn’t as pleasant during the dead of winter. We had snow during our visit but found the temperatures comfortable. The locals are friendly and hospitable, and hubby and I are eager to visit again during the summer to see the beluga whales.

Source: Everything Churchill

Churchill Town from Air

This is a view of the town and the bay from a helicopter.

Churchill

Churchill and my fave cafe

These are both views of the main street of Churchill – Kelsey Boulevard.

View of the Tundra outside the town

A view of the tundra outside the town of Churchill.

Behind the Book: Lone Wolf

Throughout time writers have gained inspiration from places they’ve visited. Agatha Christie wrote Murder on the Orient Express after taking a journey on this iconic train. Daphne du Maurier stayed at Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor in 1930 and used this as the setting for her popular Gothic novel Jamaica Inn.

Following in the footsteps of these famous writers, I decided to set one of my books in Yellowstone National Park after visiting the area with my husband.

Several things factored into my decision for the setting:

1. It is beautiful with a varied landscape ranging from mountains to prairie grasses and thermal regions. A large portion of the park is a volcano caldera.

2. We stayed in cabins at Tower Roosevelt. In the early hours of the morning we heard wolf song. The howls were both eerie and beautiful.

3. Yellowstone is a wilderness area, but there are lots of tourists too.

I’d wanted to write a werewolf story for ages and was having trouble coming up with a concept that made the writer inside me wriggle with enthusiasm. The second I heard the wolf song, the spark of an idea came to me. I stored it inside my head to pull out again during a quiet moment.

We met up with friends in Albuquerque, and one of our weird conversations was about what would happen to nail polish when a werewolf shifted. We decided it wouldn’t end well, and I filed that snippet away too.

By the time we arrived home, my head was stuffed full with bits and pieces for several stories. It was time to get to work.

Taking all the collected elements, I sat down and started writing, our visit to Yellowstone spawning my m/m story Lone Wolf.

Once upon a time werewolves took drugs to suppress their natural inclinations to shift to wolf. Current werewolf law forbade unregulated shifting.

Wolf

The door stood wide open when he arrived. He clattered up the two wooden steps leading inside and came to a halt in the doorway. His three roommates had already chosen their beds and stowed their bags. He claimed the last remaining spot—the top bunk nearest the door.

Yellowstone Cabins

“Making a kill is a natural thing and part of nature’s controls,” R.J. said. “The game populations swell to unnatural numbers if the regular cycle isn’t adhered to. It’s a fine balance.”

Another one of the girls raised her hand. “You mean we have to kill a Bambi?” Her voice rose to a squeak toward the end of her sentence.

Yellowstone Deer

R.J. slowed and came to a halt behind a line of cars, waiting for a herd of bison to meander across the road. As usual, a couple of dumb-ass tourists parked haphazardly, intent on approaching the animals, stalking them with digital cameras in hand. They wanted a souvenir picture to show the folks back home. Idiots.

“See those people over there,” R.J. called out.

“Yeah,” a few of the kids replied.

“They’re setting an example of what not to do with bison. The herd might appear slow and friendly, but they move fast if the desire strikes them. If they’re in the mood they can also take exception to vehicles.”

Yellowstone Bison

Corey tailed the group, taking in the trees and other surroundings with pleasure. He’d fought coming to Yellowstone, protested bitterly to his father, his mother and anyone who’d listen to him. The camp was okay and nothing like the prison he’d conjured in his imagination. The sights, the smells. The colors of Yellowstone. They spoke to the artist in him. His fingers literally itched to capture what he saw on paper.

Yellowstone Lake

What are your favorite places and settings for armchair traveling?

To learn more about LONE WOLF and to read the blurb and an excerpt, follow this link.

Romance and the World War Two Era #historical #romance

           EveningTryst200x300          Unforgettable-200x300

Evening Tryst is set in 1940 and the action takes place in Biggin Hill, which isn’t far from London. Unforgettable is set in the city of London during 1941.

While many men headed off to war, the women left at home produced food, operated factories and took over jobs previously done by their menfolk. Time were tough…

Twelve Things That Occurred in 1940

1. Britain started to ration butter, sugar, bacon and ham.

2. Britain starts an anti-gossip campaign.

3. Gone With The Wind featuring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh was big with movie-goers.

4. The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland was also very popular.

5. Winston Churchill took over as Prime Minister of Britain.

6. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, Finnegans Wake by James Joyce and How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn were big among readers.

7. You Are My Sunshine and A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square were popular songs.

8. The first nylon stockings go on sale in the USA (May 15)

9. The British Government order the removal of signposts and street names.

10. The London Blitz begins on September 7.

11. People had to queue to purchase restricted goods. They had to hand over their ration books before they could purchase these goods, once they got to the front of the queue–if the goods weren’t already sold out.

12. Blackout was a fact of life. Motor vehicle accidents were very common during the blackout.

But amongst the trials and tribulations, the people found time for a little romance…

Read an excerpt for Evening Tryst

Read an excerpt for Unforgettable