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

Archive for the 'Book Research' Category

Background Research: Meet the Alpaca

Background Research Alpaca

Love at first sight. That was me and the alpaca. “If we ever purchase land, we’re getting alpacas,” I told my husband.

Fast forward quite a few years, and I still don’t have any alpacas. Some of my characters, however, do own alpacas.

Facts about farming alpacas:

1. They’re closely related to the llama, although they’re not as large.

Alpaca at Sydney Royal Show

2. They are grazers. While they can survive in harsh conditions, they do better with quality pasture or hay.

3. Fencing suitable for sheep works for alpacas. While they don’t tend to jump, if they’re stressed by for example a dog, they’re very capable of leaping over a fence.

4. They should have trees for shade.

5. They require fresh drinking water.

6. Shearing takes place once a year, usually during the spring.

7. Most alpacas are shorn while lying down. They are shorn on one side and turned over to complete the shearing.

8. Alpaca fleece is soft and durable and highly prized.

9. Alpacas come in many colors—white, fawn, brown, gray and black. Their color does not usually change as they age.

10. They are usually fairly disease free.

11. They make good pets although they don’t generally enjoy being held, especially on the head.

Chocolate Brown Alpaca

12. Alpacas do not usually bite or kick, but it can depend on the individual animal.

13. They do, however, spit. The spit is regurgitated or recently chewed grass, and it’s normally stinky.

14. Alpacas are herd animals and do better with company. They can be run with sheep or goats, but they prefer other alpacas for company.

15. Gestation is 11.5 months. The cria is around 6 – 8 kilograms at birth and stay with their mother for around 5 – 6 months.

16. They seldom have twins.

17. High quality breeding alpaca can be very expensive.

Alpaca

Stranded With EllaDillon Williams from Stranded with Ella farms alpacas. Ella, the heroine of Stranded with Ella is learning to spin. She wants to spin alpaca fleece rather than sheep’s wool.

Stranded with Ella is book 4 in the Military Men series, and can be read as a stand-alone.

Background Research: Black Moon Dragon, a paranormal romance

Black Moon Dragon, my New Zealand-set romance, contains dragons or taniwha. In this particular book, I’ve used more Maori mythology than usual and terms that are perhaps unfamiliar to those who live outside New Zealand. I’ve solved this by including a glossary with links to a Maori online dictionary for those who’d enjoy hearing the proper pronunciation.

One scene in the book contains a powhiri, which is the ceremony performed to welcome visitors onto a marae. A marae is a meeting place. Sometimes the collection of buildings around a courtyard where the meetings take place are also defined as a marae.

This video below describes a powhiri and it is an excellent depiction of what a visitor might expect when they visit a marae.

Black Moon DragonBlack Moon Dragon is the third book in the Dragon Investigators series. It is due out on 21 May.

Her life has taken a turn to Crazy Town. She has caught a weird disease. Now, this scary big dude is offering help. There’s trouble here somewhere, right?

Available wide. Get your copy here: https://books2read.com/u/38xWa6

Interview with author Anya J Cosgrove #paranormal #witch

Interview Anya J Cosgrove

Today, I’m excited to welcome Anya J Cosgrove to my blog. Anya J Cosgrove lives in Québec with her husband, her beautiful son, and two mischievous cats. She works as a veterinarian by day. What would Buffy do? Kick ass!

Hi, Anya. I understand you’re a new author. Please tell us a little about yourself and what made you decide to start writing.

Hi, Shelley! Thank you for having me on your blog! I’ve published my debut this January, but I’ve been writing stories ever since I was fourteen. I started with fanfictions websites and the like but decided a few years ago to get serious about it and researched self-publishing. English is my second language, and it took me nearly ten years when I switched from French to English to get good enough to write an entire novel.

Your blurb for Shadow Walker includes this snippet. A love triangle to die for! Heart-pounding suspense, two sexy, mysterious men, and a strong-willed, snarky heroine. Nothing stays black and white in a world full of shadows. This sounds awesome since I love the tension a triangle brings to a romance. What did you find was the hardest thing about writing a love triangle?

The hardest thing was for the heroine not to appear too casual or too annoying. It’s a fine line when the heroine is unsure which one to pick. As the author, I want the sexy drama to unfold without the heroine being mean/feeble. In Vampire Diaries, it was very well done, but Elena was clearly with Stephan at the start and stayed with him for a long time, so it’s different.

Shadow Walker is a slow-burn romance. How would you define a slow-burn romance? What made you choose this type of relationship for your novel?

I love slow-burn romances. For me, it means the sex/physical stuff isn’t at the center of the relationship and is delayed. My trilogy is action-packed, and there are plenty of twists, but it does take longer for the characters to rip each other’s clothes off. I love to see the attraction and drama unfold— to revel in the uncertainty and longing that comes with waiting. But I think the longer you wait, the more explosive and incredible the ending must be, and I worked hard to do my characters justice.

Ask any author, and they’ll tell you writing is hard work. What do you like most about writing a book? What part of the creative process makes you want to tear out your hair? *grin*

I don’t plan everything, so I love to discover the characters and the story. Sometimes, they take me somewhere entirely different than what I originally thought.

I’m a slow writer, so it takes me months to write a book. I write all the good stuff first, so by the end, I get stuck with some scenes. I’m working hard to increase my speed and efficiency and not keep all those difficult scenes for the end.

I understand you have a free story called Lost Boy, which is the prequel to Shadow Burn. How do readers get their hands on this?

They can get it free through my newsletter (and can unsubscribe at any time.)
http://bit.ly/anyaslair

What is the best place for readers to learn more about you and your upcoming releases?

My newsletter: http://bit.ly/anyaslair
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnyaJCosgrove/

Shadow Walker Here is the blurb:

A newborn witch is hunted for her blood. Two smoking-hot brothers teach her how to survive. Can she unravel their dark secrets?

Demons. Magic. Fear.

I never believed in witches until I became one. I thought monsters existed only on television screens. I was wrong. And naïve.

Thom Walker saved me, but I don’t trust him. His brother Liam is one of them. A demon. He almost devoured me.

Desire. Secrets. Forbidden love.

Witchcraft isn’t easy, and my sparring sessions with my two saviors/jailers are distracting as hell. My feelings must be laid on ice before I end up dead. And I need to find out if I can actually lose my soul, or if it’s a weird metaphor.

Liam says I should embrace the darkness. And the darkness is coming…

A love triangle to die for! Heart-pounding suspense, two sexy, mysterious men, and a strong-willed, snarky heroine. Nothing stays black and white in a world full of shadows.

Purchase Shadow Walker (available in Kindle Unlimited)

Behind the series: Dragon Investigators Series and the Moon Titles

Dragon Investigators series

When I wrote the first book in the Dragon Investigators series, the story was for an anthology, and the book had a different title. It was a fun one-off that I enjoyed writing since it was set in New Zealand and I made a foray into Maori mythology.

A few years later, I started thinking about Hone Taniwha who was one of Jack’s co-workers and a friend. Blood Moon Dragon was the result of all that thinking. At the end of the book, I left Hone’s cousin Manu in a difficult predicament, which took a bit of consideration and more pondering. Recently, I wrote the third book in the series, Black Moon Dragon, and it is due for release on 21 May 2019.

The moon plays a big part in my Dragon Investigators series, hence my choice of titles. Before I started writing I had no idea there were so many types of moons. I know better now.

Here are the definitions for the types of moons I’ve used in my titles:

Blue moon – a blue moon occurs when there are two full moons during a calendar month. In Blue Moon Dragon the hero Jack’s control is tested during the upcoming blue moon.

Blood moon – this occurs when the moon is in eclipse. The moon’s orbit places it behind the Earth and in Earth’s shadow. The Earth’s atmosphere bends light into the shadows. The blue colors are scattered until only red remains, so we get a blood moon. In Blood Moon Dragon the blood in this romance is literal rather than an eclipse of the moon.

Blood Moon

Photo by Robert Wiedemann on Unsplash

Black moon – this occurs when there are two new moons during a calendar month, and this is relatively rare. In Black Moon Dragon our hero and heroine are both experiencing new things, which made this title perfect.

What’s next? Well, I’m not sure, but there are lots of other moons to choose from.

A wolf moon, which the tribal Indians named because wolves called during January. Source: Farmers’ Almanac.

A snow moon, which occurs during February when the full moon lights up the snowy panoramas.

There are pink moons, worm moons, harvest moons, frost moons, super moons. I’ve discovered loads of inspiration for the future and rather fancy working a frost moon into a story because I like the sound of a Frost Moon Dragon.

Watch this space…

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.