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Archive for the 'Book Research' Category

Artist Trading Cards: Tiny Masterpieces

Charlotte Dixon, the heroine of One Night of Misbehavior is interested in design, and before her grandmother became sick, Charlotte was studying to become a graphic designer. Charlotte and her grandmother try all sorts of crafts and Charlotte enjoys making artist trading cards.

So what is an artist trading card?

They’re original and small works of art on cardstock—the size of a playing card. The idea is to collect and trade with other artists. Here is a link to my Artist Trading Card board at Pinterest to give you an idea of the scope of the cards. http://pinterest.com/shelleymunro/artist-trading-cards/

Follow Shelley Munro: Author’s board Research: Artist Trading Cards on Pinterest.

At first Charlotte uses the ATCs as a way to express herself and play with different techniques, but when Ash Marlborough, the hero in One Night of Behavior offers Charlotte a job, she finds new applications for her hobby. She uses the idea as a part of an ad campaign for a motorcycle shop.

These days the trading cards are used by artists, people doing crafts and more recently, authors have printed ATCs to use for promotional purposes. http://romancetradingcards.com/

If you’d like to try making your own artist trading cards visit this site for some helpful hints and instructions. http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Artist-Trading-Cards

One Night of MisbehaviorOne Night of Misbehavior by Shelley Munro

He wears his scars on the outside. She keeps hers safe inside.

Charlotte Dixon ignores her stepmother’s edict and, in an act of disobedience, attends one of the social events of the year—a masquerade costume ball. Charlotte’s naughtiness escalates when she dances and smooches with a sexy mystery man. The night of anonymous passion that follows makes her yearn for a different life, but the next day she’s back to her dull routine of household management.

Advertising tycoon, Ash Marlborough is about to set a private investigator on the trail of his nameless princess when she waltzes right into his place of work. Charlotte is shocked to meet her masked man in the flesh, and even more perturbed when he asks her out on a date. Despite craving another night of sexy loving, she doesn’t have time for a man, not when she wants to reinvent herself and grasp a new, improved life with both hands. But Ash knows what he wants, and he’s determined to win the heart of his princess. Let the dance of seduction commence.

Warning: Contains a conniving stepmother, selfish stepsisters, a grandmother with fairy godmother tendencies and a sexy masked man who is willing to face them all for the love of a good woman.

A Black Cat Crossed the Road

Cats

What do you think when you see a black cat?

Do you mutter about superstitions and run screaming in the opposite direction or do you rub your hands together and watch approvingly while the black cat prowls past?

Is a black cat good luck or bad luck? I decided to research the subject for a definitive answer. Detective Shelley is on the case!

In Egypt all cats, including black ones, were held in high regard. Laws protected cats and when a pet died, the entire family would mourn. Both rich and poor families embalmed their deceased pets. Archaeologists have discovered entire pet cemeteries with mummified black cats fairly commonplace.

Fast forward in time to the Middle Ages. Cats overpopulated all the major cities. Any woman who owned or fed a stray black cat ran the risk of accusations of witchcraft.

Throughout history, black cats are blamed for causing disasters ranging from blasphemy to plague. Even today black cats get bad press and conjure up images of witchcraft and magic. Poe wrote about one, Hollywood makes movies and television series about them. Heck, even I write about them with my Middlemarch Mates series.

There are hundreds of superstitions associated with cats, probably because cats and humans have lived alongside each other for thousands of years. Let’s look at some of them.

A cat sneezing is a good omen for everyone who hears it. ~ Italian superstition.

If a cat washes behind its ears, rain is coming. ~ English superstition.

If a cat mews and appears cross, the ship and its passengers will have a hard voyage. ~ Sailor’s superstition.

A strange black cat on your porch brings prosperity. ~ Scottish superstition.

If you wash a cat, it will rain. ~ Indonesian/Malaysian superstition.

If you dream of a white cat, you’ll have good luck. ~ American superstition.

If you kill a cat, you’ll have seventeen years of bad luck. ~ Irish superstition.

In tasseography (tea-leaf reading) a cat signifies false friends and deceit or someone lying in ambush.

In the Netherlands cats were banned from rooms where private family discussions were taking place.

In Egypt it was thought the life-giving rays of the sun were kept in a cat’s eyes at night for safekeeping.

And of course during October, the silhouettes of black cats decorate many houses and shops for Halloween.

So what about black cats? Are they good or bad luck?

Well, it seems it depends on where you live in the world. For example in Britain and Japan having a black cat cross your path is considered good luck. If you live in the USA or in European countries you definitely don’t want a black cat strolling by because bad luck will surely follow. Now if you live in New Zealand, near the town of Middlemarch, seeing a black cat mightn’t be such a bad thing, especially if you’re a single girl looking for a man!

Note from Shelley: Look for My Scarlet Woman, book 1 in my Middlemarch Shifters series, which is coming soon. This is a reissue with some new content and brand new covers.

What do you think about black cats? Do you think they’re good luck or bad luck? Do you have any cat superstitions to add?

The Terrifying Taniwha

Flight of Dragons

I was brought up hearing tales from Maori mythology. Everyone in New Zealand knows of Maui who fished our country from the sea. One particular beast from the legends has always fascinated me, and that’s the taniwha.

The taniwha (pronounced tan-e-far) is a Maori monster, a ferocious beast that ate naughty children and devoured warriors and other hapless people who found themselves in the wrong place.

If I were to describe a taniwha to a non-New Zealander, I’d say they were a water dragon since many taniwha live in lakes, rivers and the sea. According to my research, they were often called lizards by the Maori people. In Maori mythology, lizards are symbols of death and the appearance of one is an ill omen. Our New Zealand lizards are small, but the idea of a large one inspired fear in everyone.

While most taniwha lived in water, some made their homes in caves or under mountains. Those earthquakes—caused by a taniwha! Some of the monsters could fly while others were capable of traveling underground. Some taniwha looked whale-like.

Local Maori tribes were able to appease taniwha with offerings of food, and they received protection in return. But the taniwha were known to turn on their benefactors if the food supply dwindled or wasn’t good quality. Beware the grumpy taniwha!

Occasionally a man or woman transformed into a taniwha after carrying out bad deeds. Sometimes the transformation happened due to bad luck.

Taniwha can talk, which makes for easy communication, although I understand their growls can be fearsome too. The other thing about taniwha is that they like to take human wives and aren’t above stealing them if the opportunity presents itself.

I used the legend of the taniwha in my dragon romance, Blue Moon Dragon, which is part of the Flight of Dragons box set. Flight of Dragons is available for pre-order and releases on 13 October.

Here’s the blurb:

On her 25th birthday Emma Montrose decides it’s time to show bad boy investigator, Jack Sullivan she’s more than an efficient secretary. She’s a woman with needs, and she wants him.

Jack is a taniwha, a shifter, who requires women to satiate the sexual demands of the serpent within. Nothing more. Then work forces the reluctant Jack and ecstatic Emma undercover as a couple. Thrown together, pretence and reality blur generating hot sex laced with risk…

Of course, I changed the legend to suit my story. Jack, my taniwha, is a private person and working with Emma pushes his buttons in a big way. He’s fighting both his own taniwha instincts and Emma’s enthusiasm. I fear he’s fighting a losing battle!

Source: Taniwha, Giants and Supernatural Creatures by AW Reed and Ross Calman

Back in the Eighteenth Century

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things about Life and Sex in the Eighteenth Century

1. Coffee houses were places for men to meet, take refreshments and read newspapers, but even here they got into trouble with the opposite sex. Coffee-house owners were blamed for providing attractive barmaids. A quote, “such tempting, deluging, ogling, pretty, young Hussies to be our Bar-keepers, as steal away our Hearts, and insensibly betray us to Extravagance.”

2. If a gentleman had admired a lady at a ball or masquerade the previous evening, he might request to meet her by placing a newspaper ad. An example from 1754: If the Lady that was at the last Masquerade, dress’d in a white Domino, trimm’d with Purple, a hat of the same, tall and genteel in person, will be so obliging as to favor the gentleman who ask’d her to dance, but was refused, with a line when and where he may have the pleasure of seeing her, by directing for C.G. at the Cocoa-Tree in Pall-Mall, he intends to propose something greatly to her advantage.

3. Many taverns doubled as brothels where a man could buy a pint of ale in the front room, pick up a young woman and take her into the back for sex.

4. Despite its seriousness, veneral disease had become so widespread in the eighteen century that any libertine might expect to catch it. When Boswell’s father shared his concerns with his friend, Mrs. Montgomerie-Cunningham, about his son having contracted pox yet again, she responded casually that “it was now become quite common.”

5. It was not only a woman’s chastity that came under scrutiny in the disciplining of the female body, but also her eating habits. A woman should not appear too healthy or robust as it was considered unattractive. The weak and delicate woman, especially when combined with her intermittent fainting, was thought to be the sort to turn a young man’s head.

6. A young man from a moderately wealthy family could make the choice to indulge in a wide range of sybaritic pleasures: heavy drinking, travelling on the Continent, eating to excess, as well as hour upon hour of sex. Frequent sexual activity was seen to be good for a man’s health – doctors advised that sperm should be dispelled regularly to ensure the smooth running of the humours, thus keeping a healthy balance of one’s bodily fluids.

7. Margaret Leeson, Harriette Wilson and Julia Johnstone were all celebrated courtesans. Their extravagant way of living found them frequently in debt. Once they reached an advanced age and were no longer able to attract wealthy lovers, they wrote their racy autobiographies in an attempt to cash in on their lives as some of the most notorious and wealthy men in society.

8. When the London hangman was arrested for debt on the way back from Tyburn, he was able to buy his freedom instantly with the clothes he had stripped off the corpses as one of the perks of the job.

9. Householders were responsible for the lighting outside their houses. There was no insurance against household burglaries. Insurance pertained only to fire.

10. Procreation was universally regarded as the primary purpose of marriage. In London between one-quarter and one-third of babies died before their first birthday. Only half of all children passed the age of fifteen.

11. Admiration of ladies’ feet was commonplace. The sight of a well-turned foot was recognized as an object of desire and something in which men might take a keen interest. Courtesan Harriette Wilson’s small feet were esteemed by her paramours.

12. Rents were high, but the majority of Londoners expected neither space nor privacy. These were unfamiliar concepts. Tall and narrow with two or three rooms a floor, a typical terraced house might be home to a husband and wife, two to four children, two to four servants including apprentices and lodgers. Rooms were small.

13. River transport in London was essential, partly because the streets were so congested and also because the bone-shaking jolting of hackneys was unendurable. The language of the watermen as they indulged in the tradition of shouting insults across the water was “coarse and dirty”. Many travellers opted to disembark rather than brave the rapids at London Bridge. The water was a deep and roaring torrent and was very treacherous.

Would you like to time travel to Eighteenth Century London?

Sources:
1700 Scenes from London Life by Maureen Waller
Lascivious Bodies, a sexual history of the Eighteen Century by Julie Peakman