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Archive for the 'Potpourri' Category

Looking to the Past

I heard on the news this morning that the 1911 census of England and Wales has been released to the public and is available online. Evidently enterprising people have already checked out David Beckham and Amy Winehouse’s ancestors.

Pre-writing days I was very interested in genealogy and have done quite a bit of research on my family. My father’s family came from Cheshire in England. There’s also a bit of Irish ancestory there as well as Welsh. My father’s family were farmers and until my generation that trend continued. My brother is an engineer while I went into accountancy before I started writing full time. My sister lives on the farm and is closest to being a farmer, but she works full-time as a banker as well.

My mother’s family came from England – Warwickshire to be exact – and were farmers. My mother’s side of the family includes ancestors who were shipped to Australia as convicts. John Fawkner was a convicted felon, transported for receiving stolen goods. He took his family with him to Australia on board the HMS Calcutta. John’s son, John Pascoe Fawkner was one of the founders of Melbourne. I have in my bookcase a very interesting biography written by CP Billot about his life. He was a bit of a skelliwag and got into trouble as well.

Here’s the link to the 1911 census.

And to finish off – here’s an ad from New Zealand that proves it’s not always a good idea to look to the past!

Are you interested in genealogy? Have you researched your family history?

You’re so Vain!

I’m sure I’ve written about vanity plates on cars before. A lot of people have them in New Zealand. Today when I was driving home from my writing session at the coffee shop, I passed a car with the number plate BIG RAJ.

Now I don’t know if it’s me and my erotic romance writing but my mind immediately dropped into the gutter and I thought about the male anatomy. No way would I drive around in a car with that number plate. It’s just wrong. Heck, it smacks of vanity.

I’ve seen some good ones, and I think they can be a good business tool. Others make me cringe. I think if I had one, I’d go for something plain like SHELL. Yep, boring but not cringe worthy!

Question: What do you think of vanity plates? Do you have one? If you could have any vanity plate you wanted what would you have? What’s the worst one you’ve seen?

Can You Swim?

When I was a kid, the school I attended had a swimming pool and each summer we had swimming lessons as part of our school day. I can swim. It’s not my favorite thing to do, but if I fell into water, I’d have a good chance of saving myself because of those lessons. These days, the education dollar doesn’t stretch as far, and schools have closed their swimming pools, doing away with swimming lessons. Each year the number of children who drown seems to be higher. Officials seem to think there’s a direct connection between the two, and many parents don’t or can’t afford to teach their children to swim.

I’m curious about how things happen in other countries. Can you swim? How did you learn? Can your children swim? If so, how did they learn?

Reality in Romance

Angela James did a great post at Romancing the Blog a few days ago about reality in romances. “How is it,” she asked, “that the hero and heroine don’t suffer from morning breath in most romances?”

I’ve wondered this myself. Other things bother me, too, not usually enough to stop reading, but I do pause to consider. The issue of condoms bothers me, depending on the circumstances and the plot. In historicals I wonder about bathing. People didn’t used to have many baths because they considered it unhealthy and having a bath inside was plain hard work. The water needed heating and then servants needed to transport it to the bath. I don’t know about you but I’m wondering exactly how smelly things were. I like it when the hero or heroine take the time to swim in a river or lake.

I think about the feasibility of some sexual positions (can we say dislocated joints?) and wonder what happened to clothes. As my editor has points out to me it’s difficult to undress if you’re still wearing boots! Funny that…

What things bother you when you’re reading a romance? Are they enough to make you stop reading a particular book or author? Do you think I’m being hypersensitive because after all it is only fiction?

Sweet Nothings

Yesterday I purchased Everything is Fine by Josh Turner for my iPod. His singing voice is amazing – all low and sexy and it gives me the shivers. The man could sing me my latest rejection letter and I’d say, “Yes, please. More.” Of course it doesn’t hurt that he’s cute as well. Here’s the Youtube of him singing the song live at the Ole Opry so you can judge yourself.

Thoughts of sexy voices led me to accents. A guy could whisper a rejection letter to me in French or Italian and I’d ask him to say it again. Irish and Scottish accents are pretty sexy too, although since I’d understand what they were saying I mightn’t ask them to repeat it. Josh Turner is the only one who can get away with a repeat in English.

Here’s a Youtube of a girl talking in 21 different accents. She’s pretty good, but please, those of you who have met me in person – please tell me I didn’t sound like her version of a New Zealander!

PS. I listened to it again. Maybe the NZ accent isn’t too bad. Besides, I live in Auckland and not Wellington.

Which voices and accents do you find sexy? Who would you like to whisper sweet nothings in your ear? Who could read you bad news or a boring shopping list and you’d enjoy it?

Women Take a Stand

I’m an avid traveler and a recent article in the travel section of the New Zealand Herald caught my attention. It spoke to me. It made me laugh.

In some countries, you still have travel with a father or a husband before being allowed to enter i.e. Saudi Arabia. In other countries I’ve visited, such as Iran, women have to wear head scarves, covered shoes and a long sleeved coat. I have a photo somewhere of me and two girlfriends in the back of a cab in Esfahan, Iran. We’re dressed in black from head to foot and wearing huge grins. We wore a black chador during our visit plus headscarves. I remember being uncomfortable and hot for the full seven days it took us to drive through the country. That said, it was a wonderful experience and we met some lovely people.

In other countries such as Pakistan, India and Turkey, a woman needs to dress with care to prevent giving local males the wrong idea, i.e. that’s she’s available and ready for sex.

But there’s one other thing about travel that’s an even bigger problem for women, and that’s going to the loo. (Restroom for those of you in the US) Sometimes it’s hard to find one and at other times, they’re plain disgusting. A man can go anywhere – choose a spot, take aim and go. For a woman it’s not that easy. Take it from me, I have firsthand experience with this dilemma!

When we traveled overland in India, we’d pull up in the middle of nowhere for lunch. The first thing all the girls did was dive off the truck and find a tree to squat behind because within minutes the locals would appear. Many a time, we’d turn around and find a stranger getting a good view from behind. We learned to be quick.

That’s why this article fascinated me. It was about a new product called the Shewee that allows women to relieve themselves while standing up. To pee with a Shewee you unzip your trousers and push your underwear to the side. The Shewee is placed against your body and the spout angled toward the toilet or ground. A quick shake of the liquid resistant plastic and it’s dry and ready to store for the next time. At 17cm long and being very light, it can be stowed easily.

Here’s the link to the New Zealand website where it sells for NZ$19.90. (there’s also a US website – follow the links from the NZ one)

What do you think?

Tough Times

Times are tough here in New Zealand, much as they are worldwide. Unfortunately, some people try to take the easy way out and steal from others. I thought these security tips from my local paper would be a good reminder to everyone, especially with the holidays coming up.

1. Shut and lock all doors and close and lock all windows when no one is at home.

2. Do not “hide” keys outside your home. Burglars know this trick and will look for them.

3. Make sure valuables can’t be seen from outside.

4. Make your home look occupied when you’re away by using timers on radios and lights. Cancel milk, papers and mail deliveries. Have a neighbor collect junk mail.

5. When you buy new items like TVs, DVD players etc don’t leave the empty boxes out for rubbish collection or if you do, turn them inside out so you’re not advertising.

6. Hide or lock away passports and official documents because identity theft is on the rise. Note to self – don’t hide things so well you can’t find them later. I’m still looking for my car keys! :blush:

7. Don’t leave car keys near doors or windows.

8. Consider engraving your property. This puts thieves off because the resale value isn’t as good.

9. Keep a list of valuables (an up-to-date one) including serial numbers.

10. Deadlocks make it harder for burglars to get your belongings out if they enter via a window. Also lock internal doors such as those between the house and garage.

11. Window locks deter burglars because smashing glass attracts attention.

12. Visible alarms and security lighting is a good deterrent.

13. Invite neighbors to use your driveway and clothesline to make it look as if someone is at home.

14. Join a neighborhood watch.

Do you have any other good security tips to add? We might as well talk budgeting tips as well because as I mentioned, times are tough. What is your best money saving tip?

Heavy Breathing

The idea for this post came to me in the wee hours of this morning. I woke up all of a sudden to the musical sound of my husband’s snoring. Now, we’ve been married for a while, and I have him well trained. I handle this snoring business in two ways.

1. I’ll put my hand on hubby’s shoulder and say in a firm voice, “Turn on your side.” Like a well-trained seal, he turns over on his side without even waking and the snoring stops. I go back to sleep and all is well in the world.

2. Hubby continues to snore and I’m tired. I get grumpy and that’s when I wade in with a well-placed elbow. It’s a take-no-prisoners jab, designed to shock a snoring husband awake. If I’ve got to suffer and be awake then so does he!

This morning I chose method number one and he did his seal flop. The snoring stopped and I went back to sleep. I’m lucky since this doesn’t happen very often.

The noise of snoring is caused by parts of the nose and throat – in particular, the soft palate – vibrating as a person breathes in and out. At night, the muscles that help keep your airways open relax and become floppy. This causes the airways to narrow and vibrate more, making snoring more likely. Alcohol, colds and allergies, being overweight, smoking and sleeping on your back can all contribute to snoring. Evidently more than 3.5 million people snore in Britain. That’s a lot of noise. I imagine the figures are similar in the US and New Zealand. I can only wonder what a spying alien might think about all the racket!

In the interests of transparency, I’d better add that I snore whenever I have a cold. As I tell hubby, I have to breathe!

Ways to treat snoring include not drinking alcohol before bed, maintaining a good weight for you, sleeping on your side, raising the head of the bed and using a humidifier. These days you can also purchase special nasal strips, which are said to help.

Do you have people who snore in your household? How do you cope?

Note: Just a reminder about the Bitten by Books – Naughty Nights of Christmas contest. There are lots of great books up for grabs. I’m on Night 12. Don’t delay because the contest will end very soon!

King’s Love Letters

I read in the New Zealand Herald today that some of King Henry VIII’s love letters, along with thousands of other Tudor and Elizabethan documents, go online this month for public viewing.

The love letters were written by the king in 1527 to the woman who became his second wife. He was still married to Catherine of Aragon at the time. He writes to Anne: “I beg to know expressly your intention touching the love between us. Necessity compels me to obtain this answer, having been more than a year wounded by the dart of love, and not yet sure whether I shall fail or find a place in your affection.”

Here’s the link. It wasn’t live when I went to look, but they say it will go live very soon.

Birds and Bees

I’ve been going to post this for ages. It’s an ad shot in Auckland (you’ll see quick glimpses of Sky Tower and the waterfront from Mission Bay) and it’s very cute. It never fails to make me laugh.

There’s a new version of the ad playing at the moment with the daughter asking her mother where she came from. The above version flashes through the mother’s head, then she turns to her daughter and says, “Ask your father.” That makes me laugh, too. I looked for it on Youtube but it’s a bit too new at the moment.

Well, it’s back to the writing cave for me. Things are going well. If you feel inclined, tell me who told you about the birds and bees…